“Our opponents in the agricultural industry are very powerful and farm workers are still weak in money and influence. But we have another kind of power that comes from the justice of our cause.”Caesar Chavez
Many of the rights that we may now take for granted (e.g. 40 hour work-week, Saturday/Sunday weekend, paid-leave, overtime pay, workers compensation, etc.) were fought for and brought into being by labor unions. Unfortunately, many of these basic worker rights have long been and continue to be withheld from many workers of color at the hands of elite corporate institutions. The corporate elite, in an array of industries (such as retail, restaurants, education, health care, child care, and fast food), have effectively colluded with the federal government and state governments to block workers of color from organizing into unions.
Unions, and the collective worker power that they create, have been and continue to be the best pathway to ensuring that workers can thrive in the face of corporate greed. By expanding workers’ power, unions have improved worker wages, benefits, workplace safety, lifestyle benefits (i.e. paid leave), and equal opportunity protections. We must enhance the power of wage workers, help us identify the right policies that will put us on that path. Here are some ideas we have identified so far:
Policies for Consideration:
- Clearly define employee and employer so employees can be clear about their ability to unionize and that union’s bargaining power.
- Overturn the ability of states to block unionizing, also known as Right to Work states.
- Protect the right to strike.
- Treat labor rights as civil rights allowing workers to bring violations to court.