Elections

What Does Labor Want Today?

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“We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures, to make manhood more noble, womanhood more beautiful, and childhood more happy and bright.”

Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor

Along with the traditional labor issues of fair wages and benefits, today’s union movement fights for gender equality, workplace health and safety, civil rights, immigration rights, and fair corporate economy policies. Some of the specific issues that unions are advocating:

  • Graduate students, especially international students can be a captive workforce at universities. The Service Employees International Union, among others, are exploring unionizing college students for fair pay.
  • Most Medical Doctors used to be independent, but today many work for corporate healthcare systems. The corporate mindset may overwork doctors and erode the quality of care for their patients. Service Employees International Union is organizing physicians in corporate hospital systems.
  • The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees supports the Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act which would help Head Start, after school programs, child care centers, and family child care homes to help feed over four million children.
  • In response to innovations in automation, the Teamsters are supporting legislation that would require large commercial vehicles be manned by a human operator.
  • The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has created a Women’s Conference to “…learn, build leadership skills, promote camaraderie, and discuss ways in which more pathways for women in leadership can be created in the union.” Topics included anti-harassment and anti-bullying sessions.
  • Starbucks Workers United has been organizing Starbucks employees to win basic workers rights generally not found in the food service sector.
  • Warehouse to doorstep delivery of goods services skyrocketed during the COVID pandemic. Like the Starbucks effort, the Amazon Labor Union is attempting to gain basic workers rights for their delivery drivers.
  • The Association of Flight Attendants- CWA has endorsed the ‘Green New Deal, and continues to work on Climate Change issues. The rise in Climate Change severe turbulence endangers flights and causes other weather related flight disruptions.


In the past labor unions were mainly focused on issues in the industrial trades, but the times have changed and this is not your father’s labor movement.

Sources:

https://teamster.org/campaigns/

https://www.afscme.org/priorities/issues

https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/rochester/business/2024/01/08/university-of-rochester-grad-students-looking-to-unionize

https://aflcio.org/issues

https://www.ilwu.org/see-it-believe-it-be-it-second-annual-ilwu-womens-conference-builds-camaraderie-and-power/

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/doctors-unionize-as-healthcare-services-are-consolidated-into-corporate-systems

https://www.afacwa.org/issues

https://sbworkersunited.org/proposal-update

https://www.amazonlaborunion.org/

Thanks and a tip of the hat to https://www.flickr.com/photos/109799466@N06/51906638515/ for the image.

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