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Winter 2009
Updated On: Aug 21, 2015

SECRETARY-TREASURER’S REPORT

Union Rights Deserve
Strong Legal Protection

    Anyone who has worked for a living understands that employers have more power than employees. That’s why employees form Unions. With Unions, workers can combine their voices and their power to deal with their employers from a position of strength.
    That position of strength helps Union workers negotiate better wages and benefits, but it also gives them rights that they wouldn’t have otherwise.  Constitutional protections that Americans hold dear often stop at the employer’s door. Inside, the employer’s word is law unless it is counterbalanced by a Union contract.
 Employees ‘at will’
    With few limitations, an employer can hire and fire at will. That is why a worker who does not have a Union contract is called an “at will” employee. If, for whatever reason, an employer wants to fire someone, he can, and — except for some extreme situations — there is no grievance or appeals process to protect the worker.
    Some people will suggest that a worker can always quit his or her job and find another one where he or she will be treated with better respect.
 
    That’s a fantasy, of course. Quitting a job imposes heavy personal costs and carries no guarantee that the situation will be better at the next place of employment.
    Unions change the equations of power in ways that work in the real world. They give workers a voice in deciding the terms of their employment. Important decisions are made via collective bargaining between the employers and the workers’ democratically-elected Union representatives.
 Basic human right
Union membership is a basic human right that is recognized  by many of the nations of the world, including (on paper, at least) the United States of America.  Unfortunately, denial of that right has become so commonplace in the United States that it has become regarded as normal.
    The existing legal system, designed to protect organizing rights in the 1930s, is inadequate for the job in the 21st century. Workers are threatened and harassed by employers without any fear of consequences.
    Something has to change. The U.S. government must meet its obligation
Michael Tursky, Secretary-Treasurer UFCW 8 - Golden State 


to protect workers’ fundamental human right to join together in a Union and bargain collectively.  Otherwise, the living standards of American workers will continue to decline and the existence of the middle class will be endangered.
    America needs to rethink its labor laws so the freedom to organize will be recognized as equivalent to freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right to be free from racial or sexual discrimination — and deserving of the same kind of protection as these other fundamental rights.UFCW 8-Golden State

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