Corporations and wealthy special interests continue to ramp up their attacks on the freedoms of working people by forcing through extreme changes in law intended to destroy workers’ rights to stand together in unions.
Unions may be the only counterbalance to the growing power of corporate CEOs and the politicians they bankroll. Unions give workers a seat at the table to negotiate with bosses for fair pay, decent benefits and safe working conditions.
“Our union is nothing more than all of us standing together to win fair wages and a better workplace,” says Joint Council 7 President Dave Hawley. “But a powerful union, like any effective organization, needs resources to function. Since the union represents everyone in the bargaining unit, and since everyone benefits from the raises and rights we win together, having full participation is how we protect and expand our rights at work.”
As organizations of working people, unions don’t receive funding from outside sources like corporations or billionaires. “We must all put in our fair share to make the union run,” Hawley adds.
“For decades, corporate titans have engaged in heavy-handed and often illegal tactics in an effort to snuff out unions,” Art Pulaski, Secretary- Treasurer of the California Labor Federation, said in a statement. “No matter how much money the
CEOs spend, they will never extinguish the will of so many working people to stand together in unions.” “Because unions promote fairness and equality on the job and through our broader advocacy on behalf of all workers, we’re enemy No. 1 for corporate special interests,” Pulaski explained. “Their purpose is to weaken and divide us so that they can lower working people’s pay, and the rich can get richer. It’s about greed, pure and simple.”
In Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker took away union rights for public workers, union membership dropped, and within five years, pay and benefits of public workers is down 8-10%. The legislatures followed a similar script in Iowa, Florida, and Michigan, attacking workers’ rights and lowering wages and benefits.
Will the same thing happen here in California? Will they take away our hard-won rights and lower our pay and benefits? That is up to us. We can maintain our power and protect our pay and benefits, if we all choose to stand together in our union.
The value of your union
Let’s remember what unions do for the workforce. According to a recent UC Berkeley study,
· Workers covered by a union contract in California earn an average of 12.9 percent more than their non-union peers of similar ages and educational attainment working in similar industries.
· Overall, a union contract increases an individual worker’s annual earnings by $5,800, for a combined total of $18.5 billion across California.
· In the Central Valley, the difference is even more dramatic, increasing a worker’s earnings on average by $7,000 each year.
· 670,000 more Californians have health insurance and 830,000 more are offered a retirement plan through their employer as a result of collective bargaining.
“If you want good contracts with good working conditions, then you need a strong union, and we can’t have a strong union if people choose to sit out,” says the UC Berkeley study.
“Corporate attacks will not deter us from giving more workers the opportunity to organize a union to better their lives, and the lives of their families,” Hawley says. “A union on the job remains the surest path to California’s middle class.”
Local 2010 Secretary-Treasurer Jason Rabinowitz notes: “Over the past few years, Teamsters Local 2010 members have come together like never before, and as a result we have won tremendous gains. We’ve organized 2,300 new members in the skilled trades, magnifying our strength exponentially.”
Corporate CEO-funded front groups have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to divide and conquer working people. If history tells us anything, it’s that working people always rise to counterbalance the growing power of corporate CEOs and the politicians they bankroll.
“If we continue to stand together, we will have the strength in numbers it takes to keep our union strong and fight for what’s important to us all: improving wages and working conditions and protecting our pensions and health care,” said Teamsters 856 Principal Officer Peter Finn.