The AFL-CIO’s first lady president Liz Shuler shares what’s on the horizon for working girls and all staff.
One yr in the past this week, I used to be formally elected as the primary lady to steer the AFL-CIO, America’s largest labor federation—consisting of 12.5 million staff throughout 60 unions. It’s been the respect of a lifetime to be a part of the altering labor motion that’s more and more led by girls, folks of shade, LGBTQ+ folks, immigrants and others who’ve gone underrepresented for too lengthy.
However the reality is, the true leaders are the ladies and staff on the bottom who’re main organizing drives and picket strains throughout America, akin to nurses in New York, academics in Minnesota, retail staff at REI, warehouse staff at Amazon, or baristas at Starbucks. The previous 12 months have been nothing in need of historic in how these staff and plenty of extra have risen up and seized our collective energy (with the Federation marching and combating alongside them).
As working folks proceed to push for extra, I’ll be centered over the subsequent 12 months on how we will proceed to construct a daring, inclusive and fashionable motion, empower working girls by unions and unleash a wave of grassroots organizing that can put all working folks on the trail to a greater life.
Ladies Will Proceed Main the Labor Motion Ahead
Ladies have all the time performed an instrumental position in shaping the values of the labor motion however now, as we lead among the most inspiring organizing campaigns in many years, it’s clear that gender fairness is important to the way forward for our motion.
Ladies comprise half of the nation’s workforce and have more and more change into the first breadwinners in lots of households. But, we earn 82 cents for each greenback earned by males, and that quantity is far decrease for girls of shade. The U.S. additionally at the moment lags far behind different nations when it comes to girls’s labor power participation.
Sturdy unions are the answer to unlocking girls’s full financial potential. The AFL-CIO is the most important group of working girls within the nation. Ladies lined by a union contract earn 22 p.c greater than non-union girls and we will cut price for life-supporting insurance policies like baby care and paid household go away.
Because the Biden administration appears to create tens of millions of union jobs and apprenticeships by unprecedented Federal investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and clear vitality, we’re working arduous to make sure girls have larger entry to those life-changing alternatives. We’re additionally deeply dedicated to rising the management of union girls and leveraging insurance policies that uplift girls staff.
Sturdy unions are the answer to unlocking girls’s full financial potential.
Grassroots Organizing Is How We Will Win
We additionally must preserve constructing from the bottom up. Corporations like Amazon, Starbucks, Delta Airways, Hey Recent, Google and others spent greater than $400 million on consultants to discourage unions—and a whole bunch of tens of millions extra on misinformation campaigns, anti-union lobbying in Congress, and different measures to stifle staff who need to type and be part of unions.
So how will we win? It has to start out on the bottom. Establishing one-on-one relationships is extra highly effective than large cash. Utilizing new and artistic techniques, we will arrange throughout industries to strengthen our collective energy. That’s why final yr the AFL-CIO launched the Middle for Transformational Organizing, the labor motion’s hub for implementing and scaling highly effective campaigns to extend union density and unleash unprecedented employee energy.
It’s about coaching the subsequent technology of organizers, and taking profitable classes from union actions in a single business and making use of them throughout new and rising ones.
An ideal instance is the latest win on the electrical bus producer Blue Fowl in Georgia, the place staff’ proper to type a union is severely restricted. Highly effective girls organizers like Wilhelmenia Hardy engaged former workers to make the case for why a union would enhance their office and assist them construct a greater life.
It’s clear that this type of organizing works. Employees submitting for union elections is at an all-time excessive—which exhibits that they see collective motion because the pathway to a greater life.
We Are All In This Collectively
The way in which we’ll win is by forging a real motion that reaches throughout each office and each sector of our financial system and public service. The labor motion was based on the assumption that irrespective of our job, background, race, faith, gender or sexual orientation, we’re all a part of the identical wrestle for dignity and respect. We’re seeing an unimaginable transformation in organized labor—extra girls, extra immigrants, extra folks of shade are becoming a member of our motion, and in consequence, we’re stronger than ever.
When the Writers Guild of America went on strike a couple of weeks in the past, they didn’t stand alone. Professional-athletes, academics, flight attendants, hospitality staff, actors, administrators and musicians virtually instantly confirmed their assist. This unimaginable displaying of assist from all throughout the labor motion is what fashionable solidarity appears like.
Right here is one of the best half: Everybody can become involved. This can be a motion for all girls and all working folks—for anybody who needs their fundamental dignity and respect at work and all through their lives. My problem to each particular person studying this piece, go to an area rally of working folks and assist an area strike. In case you work in a spot that isn’t unionized, take into consideration whether or not it could make sense for you and your co-workers.
And all the time keep in mind, there’s a house for you in our motion. We’re rising stronger, bigger and extra highly effective than we’ve been in a very long time. And we’re able to win collectively.
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