The State of Unions in America – How It’s Affecting You

The State of Unions in America

Update: APC and CSU have come to a NEW Tentative Agreement as of January 25th, 2024. You can view that here.

Imagine standing shoulder to shoulder with your colleagues, signs in hand, voices united, all demanding fair treatment and recognition of hard work. This was the scene at the Chancellor’s Office – Board of Trustees in Long Beach on September 12, 2023, where APC members and various CSU unions came together, not just as coworkers, but as a united front fighting for a common cause. It’s a powerful thing, being part of a union.

Justine Bateman put it perfectly: “Being in a union…means you are sacrificing for others; committing to something bigger than yourself… ‘You’ are not the point. ALL of you are the point.” Deadline.

This isn’t just the story of APC or the CSU unions; it’s a narrative being lived out by unions across the nation. From writers to autoworkers, unions are standing up, demanding better, and reminding us that there’s strength in numbers. Let’s dive into this larger story of unions in the U.S., exploring the struggles, the victories, and the unyielding spirit of solidarity that binds them together.

The Current State of Unions in the U.S.

Overview of Recent Union Activities and Strikes

Unions across America have been active, with strikes, and negotiations making headlines and impacting industries. Most recently, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, which recently concluded with a notable victory for the union. The WGA, steadfast in their demands and united in their approach, not only garnered unwavering support from its own members but also witnessed solidarity from across the industry.

Their persistent efforts and unified stand culminated in the ratification of a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. This new deal brings forth substantial advancements for writers in numerous aspects, including pay hikes, showcasing a huge triumph in the union’s endeavors and the true impact of collective action. Deadline

Statistics and Data on Union Activities

But the story of unions in the U.S. isn’t only written in the high-profile sectors. A look at the data reveals a significant movement in union activities and petitions, indicating a strong momentum of workers advocating for their rights. The National Labor Relations Board reports a 16% increase in unfair labor practice charge filings, showcasing a vibrant and active union landscape.

And these activities are not without impact. Union workers, on average, are taking home more than their non-union counterparts, with weekly earnings averaging $1,216 compared to $1,029. This data underscores the tangible, positive outcomes unions can have on improving working conditions and wages for their members.

Highlight of the Challenges and Victories

Unions, while facing numerous challenges, have also celebrated significant victories that have brought about positive change for their members. For instance, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, after a month-long strike involving nearly 50,000 workers, managed to secure an agreement with General Motors in 2019. The deal resulted in wage increases, lump-sum bonuses, and a clear path for temporary workers to become permanent employees.

Similarly, in the education sector, the Los Angeles teachers’ strike in 2019, which saw over 30,000 teachers walking out of classrooms, led to a new contract that promised a salary increase, reduced class sizes, and the hiring of additional support staff, such as librarians and counselors.

These victories underscore the power of unions in advocating for and securing better working conditions, wages, and benefits for their members. They serve as a testament to the potential positive outcomes that can arise from collective bargaining and united action, even in the face of significant challenges and resistance.

The Impact and Importance of Unions

The Economic Impact of Unions on Worker’s Wages and Conditions

Unions have been instrumental in shaping the labor market, advocating for fair wages, reasonable hours, and safer working conditions. The ripple effects of successful union negotiations often extend beyond the immediate members, influencing non-union sectors and establishing benchmarks in wages and working conditions.

For instance, the fight for a $15 minimum wage, spearheaded by unions across various industries, has brought about legislative changes in numerous states and cities, gradually altering the landscape of minimum wage policies across the U.S. Furthermore, unions have been pivotal in advocating for healthcare benefits, retirement plans, and job security, thereby providing a safety net that safeguards the financial and physical well-being of workers.

What it Means to Union Members

While data provides a macro view, personal stories bring to light the real-world impact of unions on individuals. Consider the story of a Los Angeles teacher, who, after the successful 2019 strike, experienced reduced class sizes, enabling her to provide more personalized attention to each student. Or the autoworker from General Motors, who, thanks to the UAW strike, saw a path from temporary to permanent employment, providing job security and peace of mind.

The Solidarity and Collective Power in Unions

Solidarity is the heartbeat of any union. It’s the collective power that amplifies the voice of each worker, turning individual whispers of dissent into a roar of collective demand. The strikes and negotiations aren’t just about wages or working conditions; they’re about recognizing the inherent dignity of every worker and the value they bring to the organization. It’s about standing together, not just for one’s own benefit, but for the well-being of all members, ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of better working conditions and fair treatment.

Public Perception and Support for Unions

Exploration of Public Sentiment Towards Unions

Labor unions are experiencing a notable surge in public approval. A robust two-thirds of Americans are expressing their approval of labor unions, maintaining a consistent and supportive stance that has been observed in recent years. This isn’t merely a general nod towards unions but extends to specific actions and negotiations, such as those involving the United Auto Workers, where a significant three-quarters of Americans expressed their support during negotiations with U.S. auto companies. Gallup

The Growing Desire for More Union Power and Belief in Union Benefits

The belief in the positive impact of unions is not merely prevalent but is also on an upward trajectory. A remarkable 77% of individuals believe that unions predominantly assist their members. Furthermore, a substantial 61% affirm that unions exert a positive impact on the U.S. economy. These figures not only underscore the perceived value of unions but also indicate a growing recognition of their positive impact across various facets of the workforce and economy. Gallup

The Influence of Public Support on Union Activities and Negotiations

Public belief in the strengthening power of labor unions is more prevalent now than it has been in the past quarter-century, potentially fueled by high-profile actions like the Hollywood strikes and a general increase in worker strikes across the U.S. in recent years. This belief isn’t insubstantial or without consequence.

The widespread public support not only amplifies the voice of unions in negotiations and discussions but also provides them with tangible leverage. It validates their efforts, ensuring that their struggles and demands are not only heard but also resonate with a larger audience that extends beyond their immediate membership. This broad-based support can embolden unions in their negotiations, providing a backdrop of public approval that can influence outcomes and drive positive change in worker conditions and rights.

APC and The Bigger Picture

The Issues of APC Are Part of a Larger Narrative

The struggles of Unit 4 Employees are personal and immediate, but they are not unique in the broad narrative of union activities across the nation. From the BOT Rallies in Long Beach to the negotiation tables, APC has been steadfast in advocating for the rights and well-being of Unit 4 employees. Yet, this narrative is echoed across various industries and unions, from the Writers Guild of America to the United Auto Workers, each fighting their own battles yet bound by a common thread – the pursuit of fair treatment, equitable conditions, and the recognition of the invaluable contributions of workers.

Solidarity: You Are Not Alone in This Fight

The BOT Rally and other events witnessed APC Officers, Stewards, and members standing united with fellow CSU Unions, including CSUEU, Teamsters, CFA, and UAW. It was a powerful testament to the strength and unity within the CSU labor movement. Together, we demanded fair bargaining and voiced our opposition to student tuition increases.

The struggles faced by APC members resonate with union members across the country, each facing their own set of challenges but united in their pursuit of better conditions and fair treatment. This solidarity isn’t just symbolic; it’s tangible and actionable. When the Writers Guild was on strike, support poured in from various quarters, not just in words but in deeds, with fellow unions and members standing on picket lines, amplifying their demands, and providing resources. APC is enveloped in this supportive, collective embrace of unions nationwide, ensuring that while the battles might be local, the support is national.

A Collective Movement Toward Progress

To the members of APC and all Unit 4 employees, your struggles are seen, your voices are heard, and your efforts are valued. Your endeavors are not just for the immediate benefit of APC members but are a crucial part of a larger, collective movement towards improving working conditions for all. Every negotiation, every rally, and every voiced concern contributes to a broader push towards establishing a working environment that respects and values its contributors.

Your fight is not in isolation but is part of a collective effort that spans across the nation, impacting various sectors and industries. In unity, there is strength, and in solidarity, there is power. Your struggles today pave the way for better conditions tomorrow, not just for APC, but for workers everywhere who seek fairness, respect, and dignity in their roles.

Final Thoughts

In the myriad of struggles and triumphs within the union landscape, APC and its members stand resilient, embodying the essence of solidarity and collective action that is driving transformative change across various industries. The experiences of APC members, while unique, resonate with the collective narratives of unions nationwide, underscoring that while our battles may be individual, they are part of a larger, interconnected narrative of advocacy, resistance, and triumph. As we continue our journey, navigating through the challenges that unfold, let’s uphold the spirit of unity and solidarity, acknowledging that our joint efforts today are crafting a future that advocates for fairness and equity for all workers.

In the eloquent words of Justine Bateman’s full quote:

“Being in a union, and going on strike with it, is the type of thing that’s become unfashionable in society. It means you are sacrificing for others; committing to something bigger than yourself; putting in effort because those in the past did it for you, & now it’s your turn. It may be new terms that affect only the newest of the union’s members, or the part-timers, or the elders, and not necessarily you, specifically. But that’s not the point. “You” are not the point. ALL of you are the point. The union, the members as a whole, is the point. Being in a union is one of the most fantastic opportunities in life, to have the chance to stand up for the group, for the strongest and the weakest alike. What a magnificent experience in which to participate.” Together, as a united collective, we continue to author the ongoing narrative of unions in America, advocating for the dignity, respect, and equitable treatment of every worker.” Deadline

To get more information on APC, or events that are scheduled in your local area, contact the APC Steward at your campus.