Union Advocacy, present day and future
Main Character: Union Organizer
Workers in the industry sectors featured in the mural and those in sectors not directly portrayed have helped build the communities we have today, and they will continue building our communities into the future simply by the work they perform every day. However, the biggest advances in working conditions, peoples’ daily lives, and community well-being have been the result of worker and union struggles both in the workplace and in the larger community. Those struggles have routinely required bringing together people who have very different experiences, backgrounds, interests, and beliefs to fight for important common goals.
Labor unions continue to be the most effective mechanism for building the solidarity and power needed to take on determined opposition from employers and bring about substantial changes on the job. Increasingly, though, the most significant issues for working people extend beyond the workplace and require larger solutions and broader alliances. Issues like access to affordable housing and childcare, fighting discrimination, health care for all, paid family leave, a clean and healthy environment, protecting democracy, and ensuring a just transition to new kinds of industries and jobs. These issues present serious challenges for working people and our organizations. More than ever, workers must resist being divided against each other and must find ways to work with groups we may not be used to partnering with. But if we maintain our willingness to struggle and work together, we can meet these challenges and continue to build our communities. ¡Si se puede!
“The labor movement (is) the principal force that (has) transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival, but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965 on the 30th anniversary of the National Labor Relations Act