Why do workers join unions?

Yves is here. A short answer to the headline might be: “For the same reason workers formed unions in the first place: they are tired of being deceived by management and know that the only hope for change is to work together.”

The question now is whether new unions, especially freelance ones (even if they are local to established unions), will be able to avoid the pitfalls that have given old unions a bad name, even if union workers as a whole are clearly receive better conditions in terms of wages and other protections than non-union employees. First, union leaders often reach levels of pay and status such that they identify more with management than with rank-and-file members. The second is the corruption that we see among many of California’s public employee unions through CalPERS. It is almost impossible to get a seat on the board without union support (see the violent and possibly illegal campaigns against transparency and accountability board members JJ Jelincic and Margaret Brown). However, the board is flattering for the mismanagement of CalPERS, hurting beneficiaries (CalPERS had the lowest return of any major public pension fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, and its miserable return this year could be just as bad for compared to peers). One usually wonders what kind of sexual favors were exchanged to make this happen, but the currency in CalPERS is CalPERS-sponsored overseas entertainment for board members (which neither Jelincic nor Brown even offered, not that they took it, but, presumably as a punishment for not getting along with the staff).

It’s also good to see this article accidentally or deliberately unearthed by the American Red Cross, which has gone from a respected charity to an executive scam operation. One of the many infamous events was Hurricane Sandy. The American Red Cross used the disaster as a fundraising opportunity, but was nowhere involved in Sandy-related relief operations. On the contrary, Occupy Sandy did an excellent job.

The key point of this article is that public respect for unions is growing. The result of growing instability?

Tom Conway, International President United Union of Metallurgists (USW). Produced Independent Media Institute

Amy Dennett endured a long history of understaffing, low pay, and indifferent bosses at her job with the American Red Cross in Asheville, North Carolina.

But she decided she had had enough when management’s inability to provide basic resources forced her and her colleagues to build, collect and dig through their own pockets for the items needed to run the blood donation center.

Dennett helped lead a union campaign in 2020, which resulted in the group voting to join United Steelworkers (USW)and 24 workers received pay raises, significantly improved medical care and much-needed equipment before signing their first contract.

More and more workers like Dennett are realizing that unions are fighting for them every day, paving the way forward even in turbulent times like the pandemic.

Gallup polled Americans about their trust in 16 US institutions, from the Supreme Court to television news. Over the past year, Gallup has found Americans’ confidence has fallen in all but one– Organized work.

“It doesn’t surprise me. We must have faith in our elected officials and other leaders. But it’s much easier for a worker to believe in a guy standing next to him than in a guy in some other place who you’ve never met and who is supposed to represent you,” Dennett said of the findings, noting that unions helped workers during the pandemic. , while many of the 16 institutions failed or used them.

With the help of a lone democrat, for example, Republicans in Congress killed the law it would expand low-income families access education, health care and childcare.

Some banks fined borrowers illegal fines and fees for late payment despite their participation in the pandemic program temporary pause mortgage payments, exacerbating the hardships of homeowners.

Corporations inflated prices for groceries and other essentials, raking in ever higher profits on the backs of working Americans. And tech companies like Amazon and Apple tried to fight back the fights of the workers for better wages and working conditions.

In contrast to all this, unions have stepped up during the pandemic because their members need them more than ever. They not only authorized workers to receive the personal protective equipment, paid sick leave and affordable health care they need to protect their families, but also continued to receive the allowances and benefits needed for years to come.

These successes stimulated American support for the unions. record levels and released disk organization wave among workers who are risking their lives to keep companies operating during the pandemic.

“These workers realized, ‘Hey, I’m irreplaceable. I deserve to be making enough to pay my bills,” Dennett said, noting that USW has “absolutely changed the dynamic” in her workplace.

The once-blatantly ignored workers now have a seat at the table, she said. And Dennett and her colleagues no longer need to create their own tape and patch organizers or hunt down parts for items like TV assemblies.

“We ended up with the hardware we needed,” Dennett, the data collector, explained, noting that her colleagues now have quality computer carts like the one she had to buy herself a couple of years ago.

USW also represents Red Cross workers in Alabama and Georgia. When a cost-of-living analysis revealed a desperate need for pay raises in some of these places, Dennett and her underpaid colleagues also received pay raises before completing their first contract.

Workers’ demand for union representation affects all sectors of the economy, from manufacturing and retail to new green industries and professional sports.

New US Football League (USFL) players recently voted to join USW provide adequate housing, food and medical care, among other things, and protect against the nightmares that followed collapse American Football Alliance in 2019.

This league closed overnight, leaving the players in the cities where they played.

“There was no transportation home,” explained Kenneth Farrow, President United Football Players Associationwho plays for USFL players.

Farrow said Alliance players were kicked out of hotels and had to finance their own flights and car rentals. stuck with ongoing medical expenses with game injuries. “There were quite a few sticky situations,” he said, explaining why USFL players wanted a union.

In addition to fighting for better wages and working conditions, unions stand up to favoritism and discrimination when no one else does.

With support from other unions, USW Local 7600 spoke out last year on behalf of the thousands of members who work at Kaiser Permanente medical facilities in Southern California’s Inland Empire region.

The union challenged Kaiser’s practice of paying these workers, many of whom were of color, significantly lower wages than their counterparts doing the same work at the health care giant’s facilities elsewhere. Some Inland Empire workers earned 30 percent less than their peers in Los Angeles and Orange County.

Kaiser attempted to blame the higher cost of living in Los Angeles for the pay gap, but this excuse was unsuccessful with USW members.

“I’m from Los Angeles. It’s not much higher,” said Latrice Benson, an anesthetist technician who suffered from the discrepancies.

In the end, the Kaiser agreed to provide millions to close the wage gap for USW members as well as workers represented by other unions.

“It means a lot to me and my colleagues,” Benson said. “We are sincerely grateful for our union.”

Dennett sees a growing acceptance of organized labor even among the blood donors she works with every day. When she tells them that she has joined a union, she often gets the same answer: “Congratulations.”