Do you remember a time when unions were common in this country, fighting for workers’ rights and guaranteeing them access to health care and retirement benefits? Do you remember how an actor named Ronald Reagan (ironically, a Screen Actors Guild member, as well as its president) waged war on America’s unions, setting off a chain of events that would eventually decimate the role that unions filled in our society? Without the support of unions, workers have spent the last twenty-odd years watching in fear and disgust as corporations "outsource" and "downsize" their employees, and then reward their CEOs with multimillion dollar bonuses.
The Service Employees International Union is holding its quadrennial Convention this upcoming week in San Juan, Puerto Rico to discuss once again how to unite American employees under the protective umbrella of union membership. According to the SEIU:
50 percent of workers would choose to have a union if they didn’t face employer opposition. That’s at least 40 million who don’t have one now. But taking advantage of this opportunity to strengthen all working people requires overcoming some stark realities.
Can you imagine joining a union a without fear of retaliation by your employer? The mind, it boggles.
I will be in San Juan through next Wednesday, reporting on the Convention activities (and maybe sneaking in some snark about the primary next Tuesday). So watch this space for updates!