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Our Revolution by Bernie Sanders

Our Revolution by Bernie Sanders

Author:Bernie Sanders
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: St. Martin's Press


MAKING IT EASIER FOR WORKERS TO JOIN UNIONS

To rebuild the middle class, we must make it easier, not harder, for workers to join unions. The benefits of joining a union are clear:

Union workers earn 27 percent more, on average, than nonunion workers. Over 76 percent of union workers have guaranteed defined-benefit pension plans, while only 16 percent of nonunion workers do. More than 82 percent of workers in unions have paid sick leave, compared with just 62 percent of nonunion workers.

Forty years ago, more than a quarter of all workers belonged to a union. Today that number has gone down to just 11 percent, and in the private sector it is now less than 7 percent. Republican governors across the country have pushed antiunion “right to work” legislation that has drastically cut labor membership in this country.

Historically, unions have enabled workers to earn good wages and work in decent conditions because of collective bargaining. Today, millions of workers are in a “take it or leave it” situation, with no power to influence their wages or benefits.

It is not a coincidence that the decline of the American middle class virtually mirrors the rapid decline in union membership. As workers lose their seats at the negotiating table, the share of national income going to middle-class workers has gone down, while the percentage of income going to the very wealthy has gone up. There is no question that one of the most significant reasons for the forty-year decline in the middle class is that the rights of workers to join together and bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions have been severely undermined.

For decades now, there has been a terrible assault on the right to organize, and one of the chief tools employers use to undermine the formation of unions is intimidation. Today, if an employee is engaged in a union-organizing campaign, that employee has a one-in-five chance of getting fired. Half of all employers threaten to close or relocate their businesses if workers elect to form a union. And, when workers become interested in forming a union, they will almost always be forced to attend closed-door meetings to hear antiunion propaganda. And their supervisors will almost always be forced to attend training sessions on how to attack unions.

As Human Rights Watch has said: “Freedom of association is a right under severe, often buckling pressure when workers in the United States try to exercise it.”

Moreover, even when workers, faced with all of these enormous obstacles, are able to form a union, more than half of the victories do not result in a first contract within a year after the election has taken place.

Even as corporate executives routinely negotiate obscenely high compensation packages for themselves, replete with bonuses, options, and many perks, they deny their own employees the ability to bargain for better wages and benefits. The hypocrisy is stunning.

It is time to turn this around.

We must pass legislation that makes it clear that when a majority of workers in a bargaining unit sign valid authorization cards to join a union, they will have a union.



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