Great Resignation: If workers want to lock in good jobs, we need unions

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Opinion, Bı Commentary

11/29/2021 9:28:00 PM

Opinion | If American workers want to secure the gains made by the Great Resignation and make sure the economy works for all of us, then we'll need more unions. By MaryKayHenry

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from the power and protections of a union.I've heard too many stories like that of Joyce Barnes, a home care worker in Virginia, who works two jobs a day for six hours each, earning wages around $10/hour with no paid time off or other benefits. Joyce has to fight for a seat at the table through a union to set standards or improve her job. 

The Build Back Better Act builds on significant victories home care workers have won through decades of organizing at the state and regional level, and would make life better for all the women who care for our loved ones. It could also be the beginning of a new paradigm in which good union jobs that pay at least $15 an hour are a must for any federal investment. 

We can't"build back better" until it's easier for workers to organize and harder for corporations to union bust. A critical piece of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, otherwise known as the PRO Act, would do just that and is featured in the Build Back Better bill: financial penalties for employers who violate workers' right to organize.

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Ultimately, though, in order to ensure that all workers have a voice in their future, we need to think even bigger and bolder. Forming unions warehouse by warehouse, restaurant by restaurant, nursing home by nursing home doesn't move us quickly enough toward our vision of unions for all.

Sectoral bargaining — a union model that spans entire industries and supply chains — is what workers need to transform their lives at a level that matches the multiple, overlapping crises we're in. It's a relatively novel concept in the US, but workers with the

for organizing and bargaining across industries that show us a way forward. Look at New York, where in 2015, after fast-food workers in the city went on strike,to ensure fast-food wages allowed a life of dignity. Soon after, New York fast-food workers won the first industry-wide $15 minimum wage, and 200,000 people got a much-needed raise.

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And right now in California, fast-food workers aredemanding lawmakers support the FAST Recovery Act, or AB 257, which would ensure workers have a say in setting industry standards on wages, safety and other key issues by creating a Fast Food Sector Council bringing together corporate representatives, franchisees, government officials and workers at a shared table.

When so many workers are refusing to return to the pre-pandemic status quo of disrespect and lack of accountability from employers, it's a clear sign we need to address the structural flaws in our economy. If we listen to workers' solutions, and allow them to work together with employers and government to improve working conditions, we can transform our economy so it works for all of us — and so we won't face similar disruptions when the next crisis hits.

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MaryKayHenry 意见|如果美国工人想确保大辞职带来的收益,确保经济为我们所有人服务,那么我们需要更多的工会。作者MaryKayHenry

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