Thanks to Unions

Four Reasons Everyone Should Thank Unions

Labor day is a welcome, and well-deserved, day off for millions of Americans. But it’s worth remembering that Labor day is more than just a three-day weekend. Labor Day “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.”

Here are four important accomplishments of the labor movementthat benefit all Americans:

1. Unions Gave Us The Weekend: Even the ultra-conservative Mises Institute notes that the relatively labor-free 1870, the average workweek for most Americans was61 hours — almost double what most Americans work now. Yet in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century, labor unions engaged in massive strikes in order to demand shorter workweeks so that Americans could be home with their loved ones instead of constantly toiling for their employers with no leisure time. By 1937, these labor actions created enough political momentum to pass the Fair Labor Standards Act, which helped create a federal framework for a shorter workweek that included room for leisure time.

2. Unions Helped End Child Labor:“Union organizing and child labor reform were often intertwined” in U.S. history, with organizations like the “National Consumers’ League” and the “National Child Labor Committee” working together in the early 20th century to ban child labor. The very first American Federation of Labor (AFL) national convention passed “a resolution calling on states to ban children under 14 from all gainful employment” in 1881, and soon after states across the country adopted similar recommendations, leading up to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act which regulated child labor on the federal level for the first time.

3. Unions Won Widespread Employer-Based Health Coverage: “The rise of unions in the 1930’s and 1940’s led to the first great expansion of health care” for all Americans, as labor unions banded workers together to negotiate for health coverage plans from employers. In 1942, “the US set up a National War Labor Board. It had the power to set a cap on all wage increases. But it let employers circumvent the cap by offering ‘fringe benefits’ — notably, health insurance.” By 1950, “half of all companies with fewer than 250 workers and two-thirds of all companies with more than 250 workers offered health insurance of one kind or another.”

4. Unions Spearheaded The Fight For The Family And Medical Leave Act:Labor unions like the AFL-CIO federation led the fight for this 1993 law, which “requires state agencies and private employers with more than 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave annually for workers to care for a newborn, newly adopted child, seriously ill family member or for the worker’s own illness.”

Meanwhile, as union membership as declined since 1970, the income of the middle class has plummeted.

Political Campaign Finance and Citizens United

BREAKING: A New York Times/CBS News poll reported on by the Times today shows a huge majority of Americans of all political leanings “now favor a sweeping overhaul of how political campaigns are financed.” 1

Further, Americans are in fierce disagreement with the Supreme Court’s reasoning in decisions like Citizens United.

This poll is MONUMENTAL because of how overwhelming the numbers are.

Are changes needed to the way political campaigns are funded in the United States?

Only minor changes = 13%

Fundamental changes = 39%

Completely rebuild = 46%

No changes needed =

This poll reiterates in the strongest terms yet that the entire country — even conservatives — are with us on the issue.

Some key findings:

  • “The responses suggest a growing divide between the nation and its highest court on constitutional questions that have moved to the heart of the American system…”
  • “More than four in five Americans say money plays too great a role in political campaigns, the poll found, while two-thirds say that the wealthy have more of a chance to influence the elections process than other Americans.”
  • And perhaps most striking of all: “Those concerns — and the divide between Washington elites and the rest of the country — extend to Republicans.”

“Three-quarters of self-identified Republicans support requiring more disclosure by outside spending organizations, for example, but Republican leaders in Congress have blocked legislation to require more disclosure by political nonprofit groups, which do not reveal the names of their donors. “Republicans in the poll were almost as likely as Democrats to favor further restrictions on campaign donations, even as some prominent Republicans call for legislation to eliminate existing caps on contributions.”

From one poll respondent in a follow-up interview:

“I think it’s an obscene thing the Supreme Court did,” Terri Holland, 67, a former database manager who lives in Albuquerque, said in a follow-up interview. “The old-boy system is kind of dead, but now it’s the rich system. The rich decide what’s going to happen because the Supreme Court allows PACs to have civil rights.”


So-Called “Right to Work”: Why it’s Wrong for Working People

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The effort to pass a right to shirk law is currently under way in Ohio. The same people who wanted to take away our collective bargaining rights with Senate Bill 5 are behind it. It’s crucial that we educate ourselves and our co-workers, families, neighbors and friends about the truth behind this deceitful effort. When was the last time billionaires spent millions of dollars to give more rights and freedom in the workplace?

Get the latest information and facts to share below. Also below are links to learn more about who’s behind the funding for right to shirk laws.

Additional Resources

Right to Shirk is Unsafe and Reduces Wages