Defending Workers Rights Through Representation

Barbara Cape, now president of the Service Employees International Union, knows the difficulty of standing up to employers for workers rights — and the importance of having a support system at your back.

ontemplating the relevance of unions reminds me of a young worker, in the midst of an organizing drive, who was abruptly terminated for questionable reason. It should surprise no one that they were a lead supporter of the organizing campaign.
Real lives and families are affected. People are fired, demoted, have shifts removed, are working without pay, have no benefits, and certainly no pension. I say to those people: You deserve better and a union is the best vehicle to get it!I have worked in low-paying awful restaurant jobs, hustling for tips so I didn’t have to eat Kraft dinner again. Or, so I could take the bus to work instead of walking on a frigid day. Back then I knew I needed a union — not only to get a better wage — but because I did not want to go alone if the boss pulled me into their office.

So what are unions doing today?

They are fighting for legislation requiring workplaces to be healthy and safe; they’re ensuring constitutional rights that protect all workers are respected. And, they’re striving to achieve a living wage for all working people.

Unions are adapting to our rapidly changing world. As we embrace new means of communication, more technologically advanced than a bulletin board, we are also facing new and rising attacks on working people. If it is it okay for businesses to make a profit, why is it not okay for workers to make a fair wage?

Let’s appreciate the fundamentals of what unions are about — people. People coming together to help each other when times are tough. People standing up for each other and demanding to be treated fairly by employers. People joining together in unions leads to improved health and prosperity for all working people, their families, and their communities.

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