Support Workers’ Unions


As mentioned in your recent editorial ("Union-bashing may no longer be in favor," Sept. 9), everyone who works has benefited from the history and hard work of labor unions. The improved working conditions most employees have today with overtime/sick pay/weekends/family leave, all stem from the presence of unions.

It is good to see that Scott Walker, one of the biggest union bashers, is falling behind in the polls and that Bernie Sanders, a long-time supporter of union work, is moving forward. Despite this, unions are methodically under attack. And the loss or our middle class is one clear outcome of this war on labor unions. In our recent legislative session, the governor targeted unionized state employees as the reason for his deficits and made claims that we were not hardworking Vermonters. Also, the Supreme Court, has agreed to take on a case that could devastate the very structure of unions in the U.S. The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, will attempt to strip unions’ financial structure.

When a union is voted in, they fight and bargain for the rights of all employees and therefore, all employees contribute. If this structure is taken away, millions of public employees will be forced into a right-to-work model.

"Right to work" may sound good, but it’s not. "Right to work," backed by big business and ALEC (a conservative anti-worker, anti-public services lobbying group), is not about guaranteeing jobs; in fact, it is designed to undermine the security workers gain by having a contract with their boss. "Right to work" laws hurt everyone, not just union members.

Unions are under attack nationally, and here in Vermont the landscape is not much different. So what can you do? Support the unions. Get involved in the ones you are a member of. Support the unions your loved ones or neighbors are in and the ones that fight for fairness and justice for all workers including those not in unions. It has been proven time and time again, that the response to economic inequality is labor unions.

Robin Rieske, VSEA member, Brattleboro, Sept. 14