This holiday many of us will sit down with our families and friends and share what we are most thankful for. The health and safety of those we love the most, the troops who serve our country, the opportunities we have to make our way in the world are just a few of the things we will share. We spend a large portion of our lives at work, and we need to be grateful for the union that work so hard to improve workers’ quality of life.
Here are five reasons to be thankful for unions:
Before unions, employers could pay workers any wage they wanted. Big business corporations could cut wages without notice or reason. There was no minimum wage for workers. When workers started to come together and join unions they used their collective power to demand fair compensation for their work.
Today, a union collective bargaining agreement is the only way to ensure that equal work gets equal pay, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation. Unions are still the BEST way for workers to get a fair return for their labor.
In a world where corporations have ever increasing power, good benefits for healthcare and retirement are too often very hard to come by. Retirement security benefits like pensions allow workers to retire with dignity. A union contract allows workers the opportunity to negotiate for paid leave, health care options, and provisions that improve your life beyond your paycheck.
Safe Working Conditions
Before unions, too many workers went to work at the start of the day, never to return home. In the early days of the industrial era, factories and work-places had no safety protections or standards. Labor unions have spent decades advancing workplace safety and protections for all workers. From the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Mine Safety and Health Act in the mid-20th century to the movement to limit worker exposure to harmful, carcinogenic materials, workers have leveraged collective action into a life-saving public difference.
Wrongful Termination Protection
For too long, employers were given a free pass to treat workers however they deemed, without respect or regard. Labor unions have fought hard to push back against wrongful termination. In 49 states, a worker without a collective bargaining agreement is considered “at-will” and can be fired at the employer’s discretion, even without sound reason. A union contract is the only true job security, with provisions for filing grievances, disciplinary actions, and arbitration.
A Voice on the Job
Ultimately, unions are the only way for workers to have a voice on the job. As we see an economy that is increasingly rigged in favor of the wealthy and the corporations, workers need a seat at the table. Unions amplify the voices of workers and level the playing field for all of us!