Political Education

This is Not Your Father’s Labor Movement

Once upon a time, the labor movement focused on organizing industrial trade jobs, jobs that mainly employed men. Stereotypical union representatives were beefy cigar-smoking men who mostly didn’t bother organizing service sector jobs that mainly employed women.

Union membership has fallen in recent decades, causing wages to stagnate even though productivity and corporate profits have risen. All of these factors have caused income inequality to increase. Women members now outnumber male members in public-sector unions. Women and people of color are increasingly making up the entire labor movement. The COVID pandemic has highlighted the contributions of all front-line service workers.

The focus on previously neglected service workers has created a new generation of leadership in the labor movement with different priorities. Women such as AFL-CIO President Liz Schuler, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch, and AFA President Sara Nelson want you to know that this is not your father’s labor movement.

Thanks and a tip of the hat to By Cropped by Cullen328 (Jim Heaphy) – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KahnMeanyLID.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17415659for the image of George Meany.

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