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Union Rights

Fresh Proof That Strong Unions Help Reduce Income Inequality

From the article by Susan Dynarski, New York Times, July 6, 2018:

 

"Union workers now earn about 20 percent more than nonunion workers in similar jobs. Remarkably, this union premium has held steady since the 1930s."

"Thanks to the new research [“Unions and Inequality Over the Twentieth Century: New Evidence from Survey Data”], evidence going back nearly a century now shows that unions have formed a critical counterweight to the power of companies. They increase the earnings of the lowest skilled and sharply reduce inequality.

But the Supreme Court’s [Janus] decision will curtail the capacity of unions to organize and represent workers. The court ruled that unions can no longer collect “agency fees” from those government workers whom they represent but who have chosen not to join. These fees have helped pay for contract negotiations as well as prevent the free-rider problem that arises when only some pay for benefits enjoyed by everyone."

 

USWU President's Message

President's Letter Regarding Anti-Union Supreme Court Ruling

June 28, 2018

Dear USWU member,

As some of you may have already heard, a recent Supreme Court decision has threatened the pay, pensions, healthcare, job security and livelihoods of public sector workers. This decision ONLY applies to PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS (those who work directly for city, county, state governments). You do not fall into this group; however you should be aware of this case since it affects us all. It weakens unions and hurts the middle class. As such, it is likely that the billionaires that funded the Janus case will look to push their anti-worker agenda into the private sector in the near future. 

The case, called "Janus," was backed by special interest groups seeking to weaken public sector unions by encouraging division among union brothers and sisters. Attempting to "divide and conquer" workers is not a new strategy for the super wealthy. In fact, the infamous industrial era robber baron Jay Gould once famously said, "I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half." But we're better than that. USWU members will stand together, united, to protect our rights. 

Let me be clear: these are dangerous times for working people, as we are under attack across our country. The rich have gotten richer. The voice of the American worker is heard less and less in the halls of power, and the working middle class is in danger of becoming a fond memory. 

USWU defends you against being terminated or disciplined unjustly by management. We have full time business agents devoted to your needs, and attorneys who, at no cost to you, spring into action to defend your jobs and contractual rights. Through our collective bargaining agreements, we have the ability to challenge unreasonable management rules. Your employer is required to negotiate with us if they want to make changes to your working conditions, and wages paid to our members are some of the highest for comparable workers. Everything you have is guaranteed in a legally binding agreement. Without the union, nothing is guaranteed. 

History is full of tragic chapters in which people collectively failed to recognize impending danger and act decisively to avert it, until it was too late. That is not going to happen to us. We must act together to overcome any threat to our wages, healthcare, job security and pensions. In the coming months and years, I will ask you to support our union's plan to meet this challenge. I will ask you to stay strong and remain a member of USWU. Your collective bargaining agreement and union representation are precious resources upon which you, your family and your co-workers depend. I have no doubt that you will do what is necessary to protect them.

In Solidarity,

Lori Ames
National President

PDF of LETTER

Janus and the war on unions

It’s no secret that Big Business and those who profit from it have long harbored a grudge against working people and their unions, often resorting to some shameless and desperate tactics to erode workers’ rights, wages, pensions, and benefits in order to grab an even bigger share of the nation’s prosperity for themselves. An important battle in this war is currently being fought in the Supreme Court in a case called Janus v. AFSCME.