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Vicki Ripplinger, Published March 16 2012

Unions secured US worker rights

All too often I hear comments like “My company sets whatever work rules they want,” and “I have to pay more for my health insurance” and “I don’t have job security.” These comments were the basis for the formation of unions as far back as 1830.

Unions were formed to be the voice for workers. They became a united group and bargained collectively. This ensured workers were treated with dignity and respect. Workers were able to gain justice from tyrannical employers. The pioneers of the labor movement were willing to fight, be jailed or even die for their cause.

In the early 1900s, companies took another strong stand against organized labor. With the backing of local, state and even the federal government, many labor disputes were quelled. The brave labor leaders continued to fight on for workers rights.

In the 1950s, union density was at its highest and the middle-class American dream became a reality. Workers received wage and benefit packages that could easily support a family.

Now, today, people think we should accept whatever the companies are willing to offer. It has become a race to the bottom as employers offer less and more employees are willing to accept this. This has to stop.

Workers need to start fighting for what is fair and just. We must stop accepting the crumbs thrown our way. I wish everyone would do some research on the history of unions and what we do for workers.

Unions have helped to pass laws ending child labor, established the eight-hour day, protected workers’ safety and health and helped create Social Security, unemployment insurance and the minimum wage, for example.

Unfortunately, this is no longer taught in our schools, and these rights are taken for granted.