Bernie Sanders Wants to Save Labor Unions. Here's How You Can Join the Fight.
Livable wages and health care access have long had a sworn enemy in anti-union legislation. But if Sen. Bernie Sanders gets his way, a new bill will help exploited workers reclaim their power.
Right-to-work laws, the crown jewel of states like Kentucky and Arizona, not only diminish wages but contribute to the expansion of the gender wage gap. That translates into higher poverty rates, lower average pay, and a walkout (or seven) as employees fight for the benefits that collective bargaining provides.
With that in mind, Uncle Bernie introduced the Workplace Democracy Act last month to help resuscitate weakened labor unions. At least 13 top Democrats have backed the bill, along with several major labor unions. The bill simplifies the process required to organize and minimizes an employer’s ability to interfere.
The bill has basically no chance of passing through the Republican-led Congress or Trump White House. But there are things you can do to follow Sanders’ lead by strengthening the labor movement.
So why’s this such a big deal?
I’m glad you asked. Thankfully the Economic Policy Institute is here to take your questions:
Hourly wages for women represented by unions are 9.2% higher on average than for nonunionized women.
Collective bargaining shrinks the wage gap between black and Latino employees and their white counterparts.
Unions ensure employers are held accountable, thus establishing safer work environments.
Union employees have greater access to sick days, paid vacations and holidays, and other benefits.
Of equal note, labor unions are pounding the pavement to demand change in discriminatory immigration policies.
How to Support Labor Unions
Call your reps about Bernie’s bill
Labor unions afford employees the power to negotiate wages and benefits, as well as settle disputes, collectively. You can find your members of Congress here.
Join a union
The Teamsters Union is the largest and most diverse union in North America. Others include United Automobile Workers and the National Education Association. So if you aren’t already in a union, here’s how to join one.
Attend union meetings and visit your union’s website regularly
It’s one of the best ways to stay informed on new developments.
A union steward represents and defends the interests of you and your co-workers
So if you have questions or are seeking additional resources, this is the person you need to get to know. Same rules apply to your local officers and trustees. If you can’t find their contact info, it’s usually available on the union’s website.
Raise awareness by getting active
If your union has an online presence, contribute to it. Join its Facebook groups, engage in discussions on social media, and share any blog posts or websites that address important issues. Just about every national or local newspaper or TV station has an online presence as well, so participate in discussions that address labor issues. Educate your friends and family on the benefits of joining a union. Create discourse. Help spread the word about the work your union is doing or what it can be doing better. There’s strength in numbers so if possible, attend union rallies and events when possible as well.
Familiarize yourself with union bylaws
Local unions each have their own rules and guidelines, so get familiar.
Participate in union elections
Be heard and make a difference.