The good news is that, according to Gallup Polls, public approval of unions jumped to 64% this year, putting it near its 50-year high. The bad news is that since 1979, union representation of workers has dropped by more than half, descending from 27% to less than 11%. Half of Americans believe that the decline in union representation is bad for working people.
“It’s been a decades-long attack on working people,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. “It’s been a slow decline from our peak in the 70’s— trailing off year after year primarily because of our broken labor laws.”
Unfortunately, with Trump’s election and the Republican’s control of the Senate, we have seen a wholesale attack on labor. With the anti-union appointments to the Supreme Court, the Janus decision came down that allows for freeloaders to receive all the benefits of our hard work without paying for them. Trump has loaded up the National Labor Relations Board with anti-union attorneys resulting in the erosion of historic labor laws that protect our right to represent our members and organize new units. Trump summed up his disdain for unions in his Labor Day tweet saying that “union workers would not only vote for him in 2020 but should dump their union and stop paying ‘exorbitant’ fees.”
Despite this, we have an excellent opportunity to grow our membership. More and more young workers are seeing the benefits of joining and forming unions. In 2018, half a million people walked picket lines. Workers are tired of feeling powerless and are ready to take risks to improve their standard of living. With the passage of AB5 in California, we will have the opportunity to organize those workers who, in the past, have been misclassified as owner-operators. Thanks to Doug Bloch, Shane Gusman, and Matt Broad for all their hard work and to all of you who took the time to come to the lobby days to push AB5 across the finish line.
The fight has just begun. With the election coming up we must work to elect labor-friendly candidates in both our local and national races to restore and improve our labor laws. I look forward to working with all of you as we mobilize to face these challenges.