Workers across the U.S. united in pride and protest yesterday to stand up for workers’ rights and the labor movement as part of May Day celebrations. And there is reason for both.
Movements supported by the Teamsters like the Fight for $15 show there is progress taking place in cities and states all across the country when it comes to raising wages to a level that allows workers to support their families. Both California and New York will begin phasing in a $15 minimum wage, the first to do so. They followed the actions of Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and others that were at the forefront of the movement at the local level.
Yet collective bargaining rights continue to be under attack. Earlier this year, West Virginia approved a so-called right-to-work (RTW) law that emasculates union power in the state. Some lawmakers in Missouri have repeatedly tried to do the same. And other states are likely to follow if the November election results side with anti-worker allies.
The problem is that too many everyday Americans are not aware of the problem, as an article in the American Prospect stated:
“[C]ollective bargaining remains workers’ best weapon to fix an out-of-balance economy. According to the International Monetary Fund, the decline in unionization in the United States and many other countries over the past few decades is directly associated with an increase in the share of national income going to the top 10 percent of the population. Most CEOs are free to negotiate their own salaries and bonuses. Working people deserve the same freedom to engage in negotiations over how they will be compensated for their hard work.”
Workers took to the streets in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and elsewhere yesterday because there is still much to be done to ensure that hardworking Americans are being paid a fair wage that also provides access to health benefits, paid sick leave and a secure retirement. For too many, that is still out of reach.