At the core, all people who have a boss have very similar concerns when it comes to work. Healthcare, retirement, job security, workplace safety, time off for those things that are more important than work, every employee, everywhere would agree that these things are important and worth preserving. But these things were only granted to the working population of America at the demand of organized labor. And it is unions who are leading the way in preserving the guarantees that allow a 40 hour a week job to pay for a reasonable way of life.
Unions have a mixed image among some voters. In my own life, the two truly formative experiences with unions happend in New York City. First, when moving into an apartment, we did without running hot water for a weekend because I was told that the union wouldn't allow anyone but the union engineer to turn on the hot water, and he had gone home for the weekend. Second, the Transit Strike of 2005. Needless to say, neither were experiences which initially inclined me to favor unions.
But I later discovered a few things. First, do not trust a landlord when he blames the local union for something, because it usually turns out to be the landlord's fault. In this case, it led to my first experience with activism as I helped lead a rent strike, and wound up trying to organize an entire building. Needless to say, my perspective on the value of collective action and bargaining changed.
Second, my issue is not with unions and labor activism, per se, but with specific union actions from time to time. For example, the Transit Strike of 2005 was illegal. Regardless of the legitimate labor/management issues at point during the contract negotiations, and regardless of whether the union should have the right to strike, that strike was illegal, which puts it outside the realm of standard practice for unions.
Today's unions are much more concerned with the well being of working Americans than any other major issue. Unions stand for healthcare, well-paying jobs, retirement security (which means Social Security), and education.
The biggest single budget item the next Board of Supervisors will face in the coming years; the largest Richmond funding disparity next to transportation; education in Virginia is one of the core issues that the AFL-CIO is working on for 2007.
We are literally walking the walk and talking the talk to support working families on issues that matter. This is about us laying the foundation to elect people that support SCHIP [State Children’s Health Insurance Program], who will fund our children’s schools, and who will fight for workers’ right to organize unions. - Eileen Toback, AFL-CIO political organizer/Voice@Work campaignThe AFL-CIO represents union members, but what is in the best interests of union members is is also in the best interests of non-members. Raising the quality of life for workers helps everyone.
The AFL-CIO wants to elect an Assembly that supports working families. That means working for the election of Democrats in Virginia, and towards that effort the AFL-CIO has made thousands of calls and knocked on thousands of doors. They are doing their part to Turn Virginia Blue. And in the next ten days, we all have the opportunity to do the same.
If you're interesting in doing more, Working America is a way for individuals to get involved in labor advocacy, without needing to join a workplace union.
Working America, the AFL-CIO community affiliate, is now involved in Northern Virginia, signing up non-union members. They're targeted to talk to 15,000 non-union members by the 2007 election. Working America is based on door-to-door canvassing around issues like health care, jobs, and retirement security. Having this organization allows us to communicate with working people who don't have a union at their job. - The AFL-CIOIncidentally, for a wonderful example of Republican doublespeak (for example, "Clear Skies" means less corporate oversight and more pollution), check out the "Campaign for Working Families," a Gary Bauer/James Dobson vehicle that seems to think that being anti-choice and pro-business is the same thing as supporting working families. Perhaps the most interesting element is their "Compare the Parties" link, which references officials like "Speaker Dennis Hastert." Apparently the "Campaign for Working Families" thinks that it is still October, 2006.