This article is featured in the UFCW 21 Spring Newsletter
In a union you have a voice. Your voice, along with other union workers is a threat to corperate power.
Unions are democracy at work, where fairness comes from each person having a voice and a vote. Our power comes from many people having the right to stand together and participate.
Wealthy executives are backing what they call “right to work” laws to take away the right of workers to stand together in a union. They don’t want to deal with the potential political muscle and economic power of workers coming together to challenge corporate domination in our workplaces and in our state and nation’s capital. Without a union, a workplace is governed only by what the employer wants to give or demand. Any benefit can be taken away at any time and unfair treatment goes unchallenged.
A strong union creates a balance of power between workers and employers. After workers vote for a union on the job, they negotiate a contract with their employers. They vote whether to accept or reject that contract. After passing, that contract is legally binding and governs our pay, benefits and working conditions. These are rules the employer has to follow.
This power of the people is a direct threat to corporate power and it is precisely the reason why these corporate interests are pushing their legislation to outlaw strong unions. Many employers would rather not have rules to follow. They want to be able to do whatever they want, including firing you for no good reason, without any say from you and your co-workers. “Right to work” is not about gaining rights, it’s about taking away the rights of working people to stand together and have a say in the workplace – plain and simple.
These laws have already passed in several traditionally strong union states including Michigan. We need to stand strong and united against these cloaked tactics with misleading names like “Right to Work”. These laws are bad for working people and bad for democracy.
The attempt to destroy what remains of the labor movement is real and it hurts workers and the communities in which we live. The states with these so called “Right to Work” laws have more than 50% higher workplace fatalities.
In a union, you have a voice. When each worker pitches in a little time and a little money we can build a stronger union, community and country together. This is how we came to have laws like Social Security, Minimum Wage, Health Care, Workers Compensation, Overtime, Workplace Safety, Child Labor and many other policies. These laws would not have passed without the political support and pressure from unionized workers standing arm-in-arm with other community organizations. We need to redouble our efforts not only to defeat corporate attacks on our right to stand together, but also to pass new modern day versions of laws to protect and improve democracy at work for the 21st Century.