Organized labor gave us the 40 hour work week, job safety, healthcare, workers’ compensation, and more. My first job was as a union steelworker, and my wife Kathy was the first female union steward of the Steelworkers Local 4454. We worked at Continental Can Co., and when the plant closed, it was the union that kept us insured throughout Kathy’s last pregnancy, allowing us to return to school. We understand the value of organized labor.
Unions do not just benefit workers. When we let workers organize we give them a voice, and give management a mechanism to work together with employees. When an environment of trust exists between employee and employer, great things can be accomplished. All workers should be able to organize, and healthy labor relations benefit both workers and management.
I have sat on both sides of the labor table in my career, and could be persuaded that unions are more needed now than any time in the last 100 years. Most full-time employees now work more than 40 hours a week without overtime, their labor isn’t respected, many are stuck in permanent part-time status without benefits, few have seen a cost of living increase on par with inflation in recent memory, job safety has declined along with worker protections, and labor has lost almost all its political voice. Wisconsin is moving backward, not forward.
We have entered a period of massive economic change, caused primarily through technological advancements. How will these changes affect our workforce or society? Organized labor working together with management can help manage that change.
For these reasons, I support organized labor.