In a political environment in which corporations are people and money is speech, labor unions provide a voice for those whom corporations would prefer to keep silent. An attack on unions is an attack on democracy.
As a member of the National Education Association, I understand the value of the labor movement. Students benefit when teachers don't have to work a second job to make ends meet or have to worry about whether they are going to lose their job for personal or political reasons. The same is true of police, food workers, and any other job. People are more productive when they feel secure.
I do not believe in protecting bad teachers, police, or anyone else who has abused their position or who is not getting the job done. I don't know any true professional in any field who would support that. But a worker should not be fired simply because he or she asked for a raise or for better working conditions.
The right for workers to organize, to engage in collective bargaining, and to have fair representation for grievances is an essential part of the relationship between workers and their employers. The absence of these basic rights leaves the individual worker with an almost insurmountable disadvantage in any type of negotiation. History bears this out. The decline in Union membership in the United States mirrors the decline in wages and the deterioration of employee benefits. It parallels the erosion of the Middle Class. This trend is especially strong in wages for workers who live in so-called “Right to Work” states. In reality, “Right to Work” means that workers have “The Right to Work for Less” – less money, fewer protections, and a generally lower standard of living for themselves and their communities.
When we support unions, we are supporting our communities and the families that live there.