Thursday, September 3, 2015

I Am My Union

Scott Walker
When Chris Christie said that our union deserves “a punch in the face,” I was appalled but not surprised. When Scott Walker compared union members in Wisconsin to members of the terrorist organization ISIS, I was disappointed but not shocked. 
It’s no secret there is a well-funded operation out there whose only mission is to destroy unions and strip workers of our rights and dignity. Over-the-top comments from politicians are just more examples of how brutal it’s gotten.
But our unions aren’t faceless buildings. Unions are our members—our brothers and sisters who are out there every day working to improve our communities and provide for their families. That's how this country prospered after World War II, building a middle class through strong unions. And today, as our country wrestles with stagnant wages and growing inequality, Americans’ approval of labor unions is the highest it has been since 2008, according to a new Gallup poll. No wonder conservative politicians—who simply want the status quo—try to score political points by attacking us.
This Labor Day, let’s show the people who want to tear workers down the faces of the hard-working Americans they’re attacking. 
With Labor Day weekend approaching, you might be thinking about what your kids need for school or how this summer just flew by—I know I am. But I’m also thinking about the attacks unions and union members are facing and what this means for American workers. 
The Koch brothers and the Waltons, and the politicians they’ve bought, think they can paint us as the problem, and they’re doing their best to do just that.

But you’re out in your communities every day, fighting for economic justice, fairness in the workplace, a dignified retirement and so much more. Members are the heart and soul of the union, and an attack on the labor movement is an attack on all of the people who make up this great union.
Unions built the American middle class, and the benefits of being in a union are undeniable. Union employees make an average of 30 percent more than nonunion workers; 92 percent of union workers have job-related health coverage, compared with 68 percent of nonunion workers. Union workers are more likely to have guaranteed pensions and to be able to retire with dignity without putting a burden on their families. 
And, a new report out from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows women who are covered by a union contract earn more across all races and all job categories — an average of $212 a week more. 
In our union, we have made incredible strides turning around neighborhood public schools and moving forward with our community schools agenda; pushing for better practices for safe patient handling and better staffing ratios for health professionals; and improving health and safety measures for our members and those they serve.
From now until Labor Day, be proud that you are your union and that, together, we are reclaiming the promise of America. 
In unity,
Randi Weingarten
AFT President

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