Imagine America without unions. This shouldn’t be hard to do because, in much of our country, unions have already disappeared. In the rest of America, they’re battling for their very lives. Union Members here in our Commonwealth continue to be at grave risk, as now 28 states have opted for Right To Work for Less legislation.
A twisted and spiteful agenda, waged by out of touch billionaires and some political puppets beholden to their money, is totally against all that we stand for. Eliminating collective bargaining doesn’t solve budget deficits; it demoralizes the workforce. Cutting wages doesn’t create jobs; it depresses economic activity. Busting unions doesn’t make the economy more competitive; it widens the gap between the rich and poor and undermines the foundation of the middle class, which is the engine of economic growth. Unions establish wage rates and worker benefits that non-union employers follow to stay competitive.
The time has come for our membership to not only get mad about this attack on middle-class wages, benefits and workplace safety but to get involved. In Harrisburg, in Washington, and at home. Our jobs, our workplace safety, our benefits and our families’ economic security are at stake. November 7th is this year’s General Election. While many of these contests may not have the money and fanfare of presidential, gubernatorial, Congressional or US Senate races, they do have a tremendous amount of influence on us day-to-day and impact the overall quality of our lives. Y
our Pennsylvania AFL-CIO has made endorsements based on the facts and records available, for the statewide judicial races. There are also a number of local races that can have an impact on our members. We have encouraged our Central Labor councils to be active in those where appropriate.
All elections have consequences, which makes every election important. Are you happy with the results of November 8, 2016? But even more candidly, are you happy with the results of November 2015, 2014, 2013, etc? Pick a cycle. Because the reality is, labor unions have lost membership, density, and the clout that accompanies it, under every variation of party affiliation.
Over the past forty years in both the National and State arenas, Democrats have controlled the Legislature during some cycles. Republicans have controlled the Legislature in others. And even still, we have had a mix of both, but have been unable to pass some of the most significant labor law reforms, worker protections, and economic security measures of that time. Sure, there have been notable successes, but also notable losses.
All of our work begins by voting. But it doesn’t stop there. We must commit to ourselves, our families, our members to stay active. Make those calls, send those letters, emails and yes – even faxes, to your lawmaker. Visit them in their District. Just don’t stay in the stands. We need you to get in the game and on the field. In any number of cases, we should be recruiting card-carrying union members to run for office as well. Of the myriad of occupations that elected officials come from in our government, union members are the least among them. Consider that fact, but at a minimum, pay attention to what is happening in State Legislature and Congress. The attack is on you and your family. And make no mistake –it’s real.
By working together, acting together, and fighting together, we still have the power to thwart the attacks of our enemy. But heed this warning – we don’t have long. Because make no mistake, the other side is organizing against us.