From the teenager who has just gotten their first job to the local manager at the big box retail store we should be able to join a union, from the single mother working two jobs to the engineer with a Masters Degree working for the giant technology corporation we should be able to join a union, from the summer intern to the high school dropout we should be able to join a union. Yet, we cannot. Why? Because we are told we cannot.
Unionization was one of the most successful ways to fight against the wealthy elite that this country has seen. Yet over the last few decades they have been losing power and membership. The old ways unions were organized are outdated and it is time to update the way in which workers associate with unions.
I am not calling for a drastic overhaul of institutions that have served all workers in this country fairly well over the years. Instead I am calling for a change on how we consider ourselves to be a part of a union and how we go about joining a union.
(If you are intrigued feel free to continue)
Like medical insurance, a union should not be tied to your job. It is too easy for us to be divided as workers simply because we do not share the same occupation. Instead, a union should represent its members across companies, occupations, and country of employment. If you lose your job you should not lose your union or its representation. Instead being part of a union should be based upon dues paid and accumulated union dues (in case a person falls on hard times).
What I am calling for is the creation of a new union. We can tentatively call it the American Workers Union. This union will allow anyone to join who is willing to pay its monthly dues. This union will give its members both group and individual support with employers.
Say you work for a Wallmart and want to form a specific union at your local Wallmart. They are notorious for violating the law to crush such an idea. What if instead each individual employee joined the American Workers Union? Wallmart could do nothing about this. This would happen on the employee’s personal time. In this country we have freedom of assembly and corporations cannot take this away from us (not yet anyway). This new union could support these Wallmart employees in multiple ways. They could offer legal advice on how to form their own local Wallmart union (The American Workers Union does not care if you join other unions as long as you pay your dues). They could offer advice to individual employees on contract negotiations. They could sue the Wallmart for anti union practices. The list goes on and on.
Another example is the engineer at the giant tech company. Say Intel decides that they want to outsource 2,000 jobs to a third world country. Engineers are usually not unionized, but what if some of them were? Those that were willing to join the American Worker Union would now be able to protest this move more effectively. From being able to have legal representation to being able to possibly go on strike.
The key thing to take from this idea is that the union is no longer limited by occupation, local of employment, or even the existence (or non existence)of a union at the workers place of employment. Instead the union is formed by individuals of the mindset that we are stronger if we work together and that by sacrificing a small payment that we will receive more compensation in the long term. Such a union is formed on the idea that if economies of scale can apply to businesses then they can apply to employees.
A factory worker is more likely to stand up for their rights if they are backed by 1 million people and have a feeling of help and security from their union. The same is true of the burger flipper, retail manager, engineer, and any other worker in this country.
It is time for workers of this nation to come together and let our employers know that we can get around their rules and form groups that will represent our own interests that can hold just as much power as they do.
This diary is an idea I had and I would like to know what the Daily Kos community thinks about it. Any feedback would be appreciated.