As seen in the Unity: Spring/Summer 2018 – President’s Report. See past copies of the Unity here.
The winds of change are blowing strong in America, and we will begin to see them hit the political establishment in full force in November.
At the center of this national phenomenon is a renewed interest in the issues facing working people.
In August, the people of Missouri voted to overturn an anti-union “right to work” law that was passed last year by the state legislature. The law was blocked from going into effect after labor unions gathered 300,000 signatures to force the matter to come before the voters.
The issue was decided convincingly when the people voted by 67 percent to defeat the “right to work” proposal.
Even voters who didn’t belong to a union were able to see through the phony arguments in favor of the proposal and recognized its real objective, which is to divide, weaken and harm all working people.
The voters in Missouri considered the evidence and decided there were already enough low-wage jobs to go around. Their state — just like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland — needs jobs with good wages, benefits, and working conditions. In other words, jobs covered by contracts negotiated by strong unions.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of this development in an era when workers have been taking it on the chin. Michigan and Wisconsin — both previously recognized as labor strongholds — had fallen to the “right to work” juggernaut in recent years, and Missouri was poised to become the 28th state to follow.
We have other reasons to take comfort in a rising tide of support for working people.
Earlier this year, we witnessed a successful series of walkouts by teachers in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona that forced those states to address their appalling neglect of public education. On the national level, American Federation of Teachers has reached its highest total membership at 1,755,000 members. Many of those teachers have expressed renewed solidarity with their union in the wake of the Supreme Court’s anti-union Janus v. AFSCME ruling in June.
In UFCW Local 152’s jurisdiction, we have recorded a series of victories of our own.
In recent months, members in a variety of industries, including manufacturing (Family Foods and Case’s Pork Roll), health care (Oceana and Eagleview) and grocery (Bottino’s ShopRite), have ratified strong new contracts.
We’re also planting the seeds for successful growth into the cannabis sector and recently ratified a first-ever contract with workers at Barclays Rehabilitation and Health Care Center.
We still have challenges confronting the Labor Movement. The anti-union forces behind the Janus ruling and “right to work” aren’t going to surrender any time soon. It’s up to us to keep standing up to these forces and continue our fight into 2019 and beyond.
— President Brian String