Strong unions make for stronger communities – that’s the message of a new AFSCME report released today.
It makes the case that when workers have a voice through their unions, the entire community benefits – through more and better jobs, more training and development for students, better public services including health care, and more.
But unions are under attack from wealthy individuals and corporations, who are rigging the system against working people by injecting vast sums of money into politics to achieve their objectives.
“Americans are working longer hours for less money and fewer benefits, despite being more productive than ever,” the report reads. “No matter how hard people work, many are finding it more and more difficult to get by and provide for their families, much less take a day off when they are sick or save for retirement. All the while, a handful of CEOs and those who are already rich have seen their salaries and wealth skyrocket.”
Unions Preserve Freedom
When working people have the freedom to join strong unions, every working family wins, even those who do not have a direct connection to labor unions. The report looks at numerous case studies in which workers have used their freedom to join strong unions and their collective voice to fight for improvements that benefit all working families.
Among the examples:
The Fix LA Coalition in Los Angeles – including community organizations and local labor unions such as Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 721 and AFSCME District Council 36 – pushed for citywide reforms that would help all residents of the city, both union members and non-union workers.
The Training and Development Fund of Local 1199J/NUHHCE (AFSCME New Jersey) is helping ready the next generation of health care professionals. It supports programs like the Youth Transitions to Work Certified Nursing Apprenticeship, which helps prepare Newark-area high school juniors and seniors as they start nursing careers.
More than 3,000 front-line social workers in SEIU Local 509 led a two-year effort to improve the services available for child safety in Massachusetts.
Six years ago, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) launched a partnership with First Book, becoming the organization’s largest partner. AFT has helped expand the First Book network from 30,000 classrooms, programs and schools to more than 160,000, distributing nearly 5 million books to educators, parents and students.
The Janus Case
Over the past several years, corporate special interests have launched unprecedented attacks against the freedom of working people to form strong unions. Most recently, they succeeded in pushing a case to the U.S. Supreme Court called Janus v. AFSCME, with the goal of further rigging the economy against working people and in favor of corporations and the wealthy.
The strength of labor unions is critical to unrigging the economy and our political system by helping working families get ahead. Working people must continue to assert their freedom to join strong unions that make for stronger communities. At a time of growing inequality and diminishing worker protections labor unions are needed now more than ever.