The American Promise is that if we go to school, work hard, and become a productive and faithful employee, we can then expect to support a family, raise and educate our children, enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life and retire with dignity. We weren’t supposed to have to win the lottery, or be a corporate executive to enjoy the American dream.
That was the vision of middle class Americans, who once modeled the image of what it was to be an American. The middle class is disappearing in direct proportion to the demise of the American union movement. After World War II, nearly 30 percent of our work force belonged to unions. Today, barely half that are organized. Today, a few own the world’s resources while most live in poverty.
Wages of $8 per hour are common. For most of these workers there is no health insurance or retirement plans. The result? Taxpayers across the United States are making up for what employers should be paying with public assistance programs. That’s corporate welfare.
Why are wages so low? Because that’s the easiest way to increase profitability. The result? Today, the wealthiest one percent own as much of our nation as ninety percent of the rest of us. Corporate CEO’s can earn 500 times the wages paid their workers.
The common term for a group of workers looking to join a union is “Organizing.” Workers organize for various reasons, be it to improve their working conditions, increase their pay or benefits, and/or to create a better working environment. We encourage you to read more about us to see if joining our union is right for you and/or your coworkers.
The freedom to form unions is a basic human right. In 1935, the US Government enacted the National Labor Relations Act that said, “Employees shall have the right to form…labor organizations…to bargain collectively…(and employers may not) interfere with…the exercise of…this right.” In 1948, the US joined four-fifths of United Nations member states to ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which included the right of all people to come together in unions.
Workers form unions because there is power in numbers. Where unions are strong, employers must bargain collectively to set the terms and conditions of employment. The demand for profits must then be compromised with fairness toward workers.
When American workers seek to exercise the right to form a union, they nearly always run into a buzz saw of employer threats, intimidation and coercion such as:
According to Human Rights Watch, the treatment of workers by employers and the failure of the US government to prevent it constitute a serious violation of human rights. Their report says, “Many workers…are spied on, harassed, pressured, threatened, suspended, fired, deported or otherwise victimized in reprisal for their exercise of the right to choose a union.”
The consequences have been devastation for all of American society. When collective bargaining is suppressed, wages lag, inequality and poverty grow, race and gender pay gaps widen, society’s safety net is strained and civic and political participation are undermined.
Union members earn 28 percent more than nonunion workers. But stronger unions raise living standards and improve the quality of life for everyone. In the 10 states in which unions are the strongest, there is less poverty, higher household income, more education spending, and better public policy than in the 10 states where unions are weakest.
Unions encourage voting and other forms of political participation by members and other social groups with common interests. Political Scientist Benjamin Radcliff has estimated that for every 1 percent decline in union membership there is a 0.4 percent decline in voter participation.
The following is a sermon delivered several years ago by Dr. David M. Baxter, an Evangelical Protestant Minister. He had been asked for advice by a group of workers as to whether or not they should form a union at the plant where they worked.
“As long as there is organized capital, there will be organized labor. And, that is as it should be in a democratic society.
The true union member wants to help, not hinder, his employer. He realizes that the more successful the business is, the more successful the employee will be…if he receives fair value for his labor, and a fair share of the profits he has helped produce.
A working man’s life is valuable. Every time the clock ticks, there goes a second of that life. When he sells the hours of his life to make a profit for someone else, he is entitled to all he can get for those precious hours.
Workers try to get as much as possible for the hours of their lives that they sell to their employers. By himself, this is difficult. He can be broken like a stick. But, breaking a bundle of sticks is not so easy!
This is why working people organize unions: to help in getting a share of the profits they bring into a successful business. Unionization has brought about, in addition to reasonable pay, better working conditions, more job security, and more leisure time for workers to enjoy vacation and pension benefits.
It is an ignorant man who values his life cheaply, sells it cheaply, and works hours to make his employer richer, to the extent that he keeps himself poor.
Well-paid organized labor is a good thing for any town. The more a worker earns, the more he has to spend. And the more he spends, the better it is for the merchant, the farmer, and everyone else.”
In 1960 John F. Kennedy said, “Those who would destroy or further limit the rights of organized labor – those who would cripple collective bargaining or prevent organization of the unorganized – do a disservice to the cause of democracy.”
Today’s plumbers, pipefitters, and HVACR Service Technicians need the knowledge and skills that will enable them to work on projects that range from residential homes to large nuclear plants.
As a United Association (UA) member, you become part of an elite workforce- a workforce that promises to be the safest, most productive and highly trained in the industry. And, we can back up those promises with proof!
A career as a union craftsman provides job security, training and a high standard of quality work that instills pride.
We welcome anyone that is working at the trade that are not working under a collective bargaining agreement to contact us about joining UA Local 85. All such contacts with UA Local 85 will be confidential. We are here to help those of you that are working at the trade to have a safer and more prosperous working career.