What Unions Have Done For You

Despite what many CEOs and right-wing politicians may say, unions created many benefits all Americans enjoy today.  Becoming a union member is a step toward progress, find out what unions have created for our country:

The Weekend

In 1870, the average workweek for most Americans was 61 hours — almost double what most Americans work now. Yet in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century, labor unions engaged in massive strikes in order to demand shorter workweeks so that Americans could be home with their loved ones instead of constantly toiling for their employers with no leisure time. By 1937, these labor actions created enough political momentum to pass the Fair Labor Standards Act, which helped create a federal framework for a shorter workweek that included room for leisure time.

End of Child Labor

“Union organizing and child labor reform were often intertwined” in U.S. history, with organization’s like the “National Consumers’ League” and the National Child Labor Committee” working together in the early 20th century to ban child labor. The very first American Federation of Labor (AFL) national convention passed “a resolution calling on states to ban children under 14 from all gainful employment” in 1881, and soon after states across the country adopted similar recommendations, leading up to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act which regulated child labor on the federal level for the first time.

40 hour work week

“The rise of unions in the 1930′s and 1940′s led to the first great expansion of health care” for all Americans, as labor unions banded workers together to negotiate for health coverage plans from employers. In 1942, “the US set up a National War Labor Board. It had the power to set a cap on all wage increases. But it let employers circumvent the cap by offering “fringe benefits” – notably, health insurance.” By 1950, “half of all companies with fewer than 250 workers and two-thirds of all companies with more than 250 workers offered health insurance of one kind or another.”

    • 8 hour work day
    • Unemployment Benefit
    • Workers Compensation Laws
    • Employer-Based Health Coverage
    • Family and Medical Leave Act

    Labor unions like the AFL-CIO federation led the fight for this 1993 law, which “requires state agencies and private employers with more than 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave annually for workers to care for a newborn, newly adopted child, seriously ill family member or for the worker’s own illness.

    Despite these achievements and benefits we all enjoy, Unions have been assaulted recently for “destroying state budgets” and “bankrupting America”. But the statistics are clear; as union membership decreases middle class income shrinks. Unions progress our country, protecting and building the middle class. Party politics have made unionism a polarizing issue, when did it become wrong to stand up for what’s right? When did it become wrong for fighting for respect and better working conditions? Advancing the lives of the working class of our country should be a responsibility. Unions not only ensure their workers are protected, but set a standard for the working class.