We Stand with Texas
“As Hurricane Harvey and its remnants bring unprecedented flooding and damage to a huge portion of Texas, working people in the state are going above and beyond their duties to help one another,” – Texas AFL-CIO President John Patrick.
The top priority of all working people in Texas and around the country is saving everybody whose lives are endangered by the unparalleled devastation of Hurricane Harvey. It’s always amazing, but never surprising, to see and hear of the heroic lengths that infrastructure, utility, first responders and public service workers go to in protecting and maintaining life-saving systems in nearly impossible situations.
Working people everywhere applaud the selfless efforts of people helping each other as drenching rain continues to fall, and we pray for those still in danger. The Oregon AFL-CIO stands prepared to do all it can to assist the people of Texas in this difficult time, now and in the rebuilding to come.
The Texas Workers Relief Fund, a 501(c)(3) charitable fund, overseen by the Texas AFL-CIO, has been established to assist workers and their families in their time of need. Funds are provided to help stabilize situations when issues occur such as natural disasters. While we cannot make anyone whole, the Texas Workers Relief Fund sends a message of solidarity and the knowledge that working people affected by this disaster are supported by Brothers and Sisters across the nation.
Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain was featured in the Northwest Labor Press, where he wrote about what Labor Day means to Oregon’s union movement:
“Labor Day means different things to different people. For some it’s the end of summer. To others it’s a day off, perhaps a barbecue with family and friends. To many union members and leaders, it’s a day to come together and celebrate the rich culture of the labor movement and the impact it has had on the American economy.
For me, Labor Day is about solidarity. It is about working people and unions standing together in solidarity. When unions stand together to move an agenda, great things happen for workers.”
9 Things to Know about the Role of Unions in 2017
With Labor Day around the corner, we have an opportunity to talk to friends and family about the importance of unions in today’s economy. Here are nine things to know about working people standing together, which came from a new Economic Policy Institute report:
1. Unions amplify the voices of working people on the job: Organized labor is one of the largest institutions in America: One in nine U.S. workers—16 million of us—are represented by unions. Joining a union means that you and your co-workers have a say in the workplace. When working people come together to negotiate, it means they are more likely to have their voice heard, which means they are more likely to win wage increases, better access to health care and workplace safety, more reasonable and predictable work schedules, and more satisfactory avenues for settling workplace disputes.
2. Working people in unions are as diverse as Americans as a whole: Union members are much more diverse than we are depicted in the media. Nearly two-thirds of union workers from 18-64 are women and/or people of color. Almost half of union members are women. More than one-third of union members are people of color. Black workers are more likely to be union members than white or Hispanic workers.
3. Working people in unions come from a variety of sectors: Nearly 40% of working people in unions are in education and health services. Nearly 14% are in public administration. More than 12% are in transportation and utilities. Just over 9% of union members are in manufacturing.
4. Unions are thriving in diverse industries: More and more working people are joining unions in fields that are experiencing a lot of change. Some key groups of working people that are growing in their union membership rates include: television writers, graduate student workers, professional and technical employees, UPS employees, Maine lobster fishers, cafeteria and contract workers, and working people at digital companies.
5. Democracy is strengthened when more working people are union members: Business owners and CEOs organize to represent their interests before government and in society. Unions enable working people to do the same thing with fewer resources. Unions fight not only for their own members, but for laws that benefit all working people, from things as diverse as Social Security and child labor laws to voting rights and the minimum wage.
6. Unions reduce inequality and help middle- and low-wage working people obtain a fair share of economic growth: When more working people are union members, the economy does better. Unions have a strong positive effect not only on the wages of their members, but also on the wages of nonunion members. Unions help boost the wages of middle- and low-wage occupations more than high-income ones, thus reducing inequality, which in turn helps boost the economy.
7. More specifically, unions help reduce wage gaps and increase wages for women and people of color: Through a variety of methods, unions make it easier for women and people of color to obtain equal pay for equal work. Things like establishing pay transparency, correcting salary discrepancies, making raise and promotion processes clearer, and helping pursue justice for workers who have been discriminated against are major tools in the pursuit of worker equality.
8. Union workplaces are safer and all workplaces are safer because of unions: One of the key reasons that working people organize into unions is to improve workplace safety. In a country where annually nearly 60,000 people die on the job or because of workplace-related diseases, and 7 million others are injured or get sick on the job, worker safety is a major concern. Unions have a long history of fighting for safer workplaces. When a workplace is unionized, working people are better able to negotiate for even safer workplaces.
9. Corporate lobbyists and their lawmaker friends are dismantling the rights of working people: From dishonest, but well-funded, anti-union campaigns to pushing for anti-worker federal and state laws, the richest corporations, their lobbyists, and the lawmakers that ally with them are fighting hard to take away your rights as a worker. For example, between 2011 and 2015, 15 states enacted laws that severely limited or dismantled collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions. Many states have cut public-sector wages and benefits. States and localities are frequently abandoning the promises they made to retired workers and abandoning pension obligations. These and a variety of other tactics are widespread and growing. The best way to fight back against these trends is through stronger unions.