MESSAGE FROM SECRETARY-TREASURER
Steven P. Vairma
Steve Vairma's Column:
Young workers showing pro-union tendencies
The anti-union movement within corporate America has been an extraordinarily successful battle against labor unions for more than 30 years.
There are many reasons for the business community's success, but for brevity's sake, I'll simply point out that the victors in political conflicts are almost always those who can spread the most money among lawmakers who do their bidding in the halls of government.
Undermanned, woefully underfinanced and sometimes fighting two opponents - global capitalism and government organized labor has long been on the defensive.
It is estimated that the business community outspends unions by about 12 to 1 for political campaigns, a figure that has grown exponentially since the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which allows corporations to contribute unlimited funds to their political lackeys.
However, underdogs occasionally win. Truman bet Dewey in 1948, and more contemporarily, for the millennials in the NCAA basketball tournament this year, the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the 64th and final seed, beat Virginia, the number one seed.
Recent statistics released by the Economic Policy Institute indicate that organized labor may someday be able to spring a Truman-Dewey or a MUBC-Virginia-type upset on corporate America.
There is no indication yet that the union busting Koch brothers and their anti-worker coporate brethren are scared out of their pants, but EPI's stats must have them scratching their heads.
In 2017, there were 262,000 new union members in the United States, according to EPI. Seventy-five percent of these new members were young people 16 to 35 years of age. It seems the millennials are are coming to organized labor, and quite willingly, too.
EPI's reserach shows that young workers hold a favorable attitude toward unionism. Their support for politicans is tilted toward those who support pro-worker issues while opposing policies such as so-called right-to-work that are punitive towards workers.
Workers age 35 and under are the main component of an unprecedented surge in union membership over the past two years.
Nationwide in 2017, nearly 860,000 workers under age 35 got hired, and nearly a quarter of those were union jobs.
"Historically", according the the EPI analysis, "younger workers have been less likely than older workers to be a member of a union." In that sense there's room to grow among younger workers, whose union membership lags behind other age groups.
However, young workers are responsible for a huge portion of the recent gains in union representation across the workforce, which has remained fairly steady.
Growing by some 198,000 workers in 2017, youth in union jobs are ofsetting loss of those jobs in older age brackets; union jobs for workers age 45 to 54 dropped by some 75,000 over the same period.
These statistics are in contrast to the myth of millennials being economically and politcally adrift.
"They're stepping in readily to fill the union ranks that have hemmorrhaged middle aged workers over the years - 2017 actually saw an increase in the overall number of unionized workers over the previous year," writes Michelle Chen in an excellent analysis published in the Nation magazine.
"A movement that we're used to thinking of as getting older and smaller is actually growing stronger and younger - and they may well be leading the next progressive voting bloc in tandem with the labor movement."
With stronger unions will come a better financed political movement with more boots on the ground and more influence in Wasington and the statehouses.
So there now appears a sliver of light at the end of what has been a 30- year long tunnel of darkness, and we have to use it to our advantage in the future.
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XPO Logistics is a top ten global logistics and transportation company with annual revenue of $15 billion and 89,000 employees, another 10,000 workers classified as independent contractors, and thousands more working for firms that subcontract with XPO. We are the REAL workers at XPO Logistics worldwide exposing the truth about the company’s global greed, illegal wage theft, unsafe conditions, and abhorrent and vicious anti-worker, anti-union tactics.
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