By Pablo Ros
You’ve heard the myth of the self-made man: If you cultivate a positive attitude and work hard, you can start out with nothing and still become the next billionaire. What’s more appealing than the belief in complete self-sufficiency?
Yet, reality is otherwise. As a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) points out, American workers have always done better for themselves and their families when they join together in strong unions. It’s through collective bargaining that they have a voice on the job and greater control over their lives and their futures.
“Through unions, people join together to strive for improvements at the place where they spend a large portion of their waking hours: work,” the report reads.
The freedom of workers to join together in unions is considered a fundamental human right across the world, and more than 16 million people in the United States exercise this right, according to the report. But this freedom is under attack by wealthy corporations and the politicians who do their bidding.
According to a 2012 survey cited in the report, nearly half of American workers say they would vote to create a union in their workplace tomorrow if they had the chance. So why don’t they?
Wealthy special interests and the politicians who enable them seem to be winning a war of misinformation and intimidation against workers who want to unionize. Union membership in the United States has been on the decline for decades (though AFSCME is an exception). And attempts by workers to unionize, like the campaign by Nissan workers in Mississippi this year, are countered by voter intimidation tactics and other unfair labor practices.
“Because unions and collective bargaining are effective at giving workers power, they are opposed by corporate interests and policymakers representing the highest-earning 1 percent,” the EPI report states. “For decades, fierce corporate opposition has suppressed the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively in the private sector by promoting anti-union campaigns in workplaces seeking to unionize and by lobbying lawmakers to pass laws depriving private-sector unions of funds needed to operate.”
The report notes the many benefits that unions provide workers and the general population. Among other things, unions:
Unlike other unions, AFSCME has grown stronger in recent years, adding 12,000 new members in 2016 alone. AFSCME members have a strong voice in their workplace and greater control over their jobs, working conditions, as well as their lives and futures.
If you want success in life, don’t go it alone. Join a strong union and make your voice heard.