If we’ve learned anything from the Labor Movement’s long history in the United States, it’s this: Never underestimate the power of working people who come together under the banner of solidarity.
We can endure setbacks, as we did in the recent unionization vote at the Amazon fulfilment warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., and then come roaring back with successes on other fronts.
The stage is already set across the country, where two-thirds of the population now has a favorable view of unions. This is the highest level of approval in decades, reflecting an increasing awareness — especially among younger Americans — that corporations like Amazon, Walmart and McDonald’s won’t willingly share a meaningful portion of their profits with the workers who make those profits possible. Good things like fair wages and decent benefits have to be demanded by a united and determined work force.
Government can help with measures like minimum wage laws, but it will take a stronger, newly empowered union movement to achieve real progress in narrowing the wealth gap between the richest few and everyone else.
This is why the White House has spoken forthrightly in support of unions and has taken the strongest pro-labor positions of any presidency since the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s.
Most significant among the president’s positions is his endorsement of the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act of 2021. This law would make it harder for companies to intimidate and browbeat workers who want to join a union, as happened allegedly at the Amazon warehouse in Alabama. It would also take away from states their ability to weaken unions through unfair laws.
While the U.S. House of Representatives has already approved the PRO Act, it faces a likely filibuster by anti-union forces in the Senate.
Meanwhile, the administration has taken another bold step by launching a high-level task force, headed by the vice president and Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh ¬ (a longtime leader of a union), to find other ways to help workers get a voice on the job.
A White House spokesperson said the task force will provide recommendations to make it easier for all workers, including women and people of color, to join unions and become part of the middle class. For example, the federal government could use its leverage as a contractor to encourage companies to refrain from interfering in union organizing drives.
These pro-union actions add up to good news for the working people of America.
Current federal laws are not sufficient to protect people who want to improve their lives by joining a union. Now we have the nation’s leadership firmly committed to finding solutions to this problem, and that’s a good thing.
Strength at the local level
Whatever happens in Washington, D.C., we’ll always have work to do at UFCW Local 1167. At press time we continue to be in arduous negotiations with Food 4 Less, we’re underway with CVS and will be opening contract talks with Rite Aid soon.
As always, we will never rest until our bargaining teams have negotiated the best possible agreements — contracts our members will be proud to ratify.
Our success in these endeavors rely on the solidarity of our membership, because it empowers us to negotiate from a position of strength. Without it, we would be at the mercy of the enormous corporations most of us work for.
We are united and we are strong. We are UFCW Local 1167!