Aug 29, 2012

Labor Day Should Serve as Reminder of Why We Need Unions

A recent post from Ullico, Inc. CEO Edward M. Smith on the Huffington Post caught our attention this week. Titled Unions Matter More than Ever, the piece focuses on the GOP-driven trope that "unions don't matter anymore."

As Smith argues, the troubling events that have been used to support this claim - the Wisconsin recall, right-to-work laws, and declining union membership - should only mean one thing: that unions are more important than ever.

In the months leading up to this November's election, talk of the shrinking middle class has been repeated over and over again.  Is it any wonder that the decline of the middle class coincides with shrinking labor unions? We need unions to keep the middle class strong, and alive.

Smith even cites a study published last year in the American Sociological Review by Bruce Western of Harvard University and Jake Rosenfeld of the University of Washington that found found "between a fifth to a third of the growth in inequality can be explained by the decline of unions."

With more Americans out of work, without healthcare, and no means to save for retirement, are we willing to sit back and simply say that, because times are challenging, that unions don't matter anymore?

No. We cannot afford to.

Unions ensure that there are jobs that will provide workers good salaries, pensions, healthcare, and other benefits.  Union jobs allow people to make living wages, send their children to college or trade schools, and have economic security.  Unions are good for everyone, as they allow people to invest in their communities, and have hope of achieving an American Dream.

If we give up on unions, who will speak for the working people? Corporations will, but you can bet their voices will not actually advocate for the middle class, average American, struggling to make ends meet.

Smith also brings up a good point about politics.  He reminds us that "in order for unions to remain strong, we must remain united at the ballot box." Rather than letting our opponents divide us politically, we need to support each other- our common interests and goals. Without this, we risk losing our right to collective bargaining.  How else can we achieve fair pay and benefits?

Unions are about sticking together, and having a united voice to achieve fairness and equality.  So if we do not stick together, then of course unions won't work. In the decades past, unions were instrumental in gaining rights for working America.  Without unions, there would be no minimum wage, no safety standards on the job, no job security.  Unions achieved these things by staying strong and standing together, and together, we can continue to help provide good jobs.

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