Friday, January 19, 2018

Workers' Rights and Democratic Process

Most workers are very busy doing their jobs, caring for their family and friends, and taking care of themselves. There's little time left after work to take part in the research and advocacy to protect their rights. That is why good democratic process and workers' unions are positive--the democratic process includes the voices of all and the union gives voice to workers who are often too busy to have voice on their own.

Many decry unions and at times unions get a bad rap, but as I think about our society, I believe we need unions now more than ever before. Workers in almost every industry need to get together and seek the support and voice they need to get the pay, respect, and benefits they deserve. The more pay is diminished and jobs disrespected, the greater the need for unionization and collective benefits.

Today as the Massachusetts Teachers Union alerted members about an upcoming potential change in their health care, I was reminded of our need for a union. Without that note most of us would be unaware of the change. Many educators return home day after day with little energy to do more than care for their families--they're exhausted after a full day of work. Many would have missed this news without the union.

Further, last year, without the union support, the cap on charters would have been lifted which would have resulted in greater inequity in the state with regard to financial support and equitable education opportunities for the states' children. While the press for charters is often complimentary, the realities don't live up to that press. Mostly I'm not a fan of charter schools because they are not products of public process and don't serve all children. I'd rather see the money go towards uplifting public schools for all students in ways that matter. Public schools can be innovative too. We don't need to support for-profit or private charter schools with public money.

Our country will be stronger if unions gain strength across all areas of work--unions bring people together and lobby for fair rights and benefits. Like a good democracy, however, unions don't survive on their own. Instead they require the efforts of all members to stay strong and dynamic. Everyone has to do their part to maintain strong worker's rights and benefits, and when workers get what they need, they are able to do the good work that supports a community, state, and nation. Onward.