I’m pretty proud of my grown up kids. (I’m a mom, they will always be kids to me.) I know their generation will face many more challenges than we did. We were pretty blessed. My husband, Gary and I both worked and earned enough money to buy a home, raise a family and set aside a nest egg for retirement.
But I worry about many in today’s workforce. They are the ones burdened with heavy student debt and stagnant wages. Some are working two jobs just to pay the rent and other basic human needs. Making matters worse our nation’s inability to provide affordable healthcare for all has placed them in the a position where they are just one medical crisis away from financial disaster.
I can’t help but draw similarities between the generation of my kids and those of my grandparents who struggled during the Great Depression. Both believed an honest day’s work deserved fair compensation, every worker deserved a safe work environment and the promise of providing their children with more opportunities and a chance at better lives.
These beliefs were behind the creation of America’s Union Movement which gave us a 40 hour week, the weekend and an end to child labor in this country. Yet in recent years union membership has fallen in favor of the right-to-work movement. There are now right-to-work laws in 28 states.
This is how the AFL-CIO explains Right-to-Work:
“Right to work” is the name for a policy designed to take away rights from working people. Backers of right to work laws claim that these laws protect workers against being forced to join a union. The reality is that federal law already makes it illegal to force someone to join a union.
The real purpose of right to work laws is to tilt the balance toward big corporations and further rig the system at the expense of working families. These laws make it harder for working people to form unions and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions.
Right-to-work states tend to lean Republican. I am thankful that Minnesota is not among them and that my kids are proud union members. Fred is a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189. He and his co-workers recently ratified their first union contract. My daughter-in-law Anna is a member of the Minnesota Nurses Association.
There is power in numbers. Numbers are built through organizing. Look no further than the teachers strikes of 2018 and the gains being made on behalf of workers we trust to educate our next generation of workers.