Young Workers Face Challenges and Present Opportunities

September 03, 2009

Young Workers: A Lost Decade

Today young workers are less likely to have health care or economic security than they were 10 years ago, and one-third live in their parents’ home, according to a new national survey released by the AFL-CIO.

  • 31 percent of young workers report being uninsured, up from 24 percent 10 years ago, and 79 percent of those without health care coverage say it’s because they can’t afford it or their employer does not offer it.
  • One in three young workers live at home with their parents.
  • Only 31 percent say they make enough money to cover their bills and put some money aside — 22 percentage points fewer than in 1999.

Young workers are facing many new challenges on the job, especially during this recession. AFSCME joins the AFL-CIO in working with young union members to build the labor movement, revitalize the economy, and to pass health care reform and the Employee Free Choice Act.

That’s why AFSCME started a special program, the Next Wave, designed to reach out to young union members and to provide them with the tools and connections to get them ready for future union leadership. The Next Wave is bringing new ideas and energy in into AFSCME and advancing the labor movement.

More than 600 young labor activists came together in Chicago this summer for the inaugural Next Wave conference. “Next Wave is dedicated to showing members 35 and younger how critical the union is and how it is relevant to them today,” said Natasha Pranger, a Next Wave activist from Washington Council 28, Local 304. “We are AFSCME and we are much stronger working together than alone.”

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Previous: The Death of a Friend

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