Building Worker Power

By HENRY GARRIDO

As Labor Day approached this summer, a well-known polling organization, Gallup, released its annual, national survey on public attitude toward unions.

The findings were remarkable:

Sixty-four percent of Americans approve of labor unions, one of the highest approval ratings in the past 50 years — much higher than Trump’s or Congress’.

DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido

Young people overwhelmingly support unions. In fact, the younger the respondent, the more likely they were to have a positive view of unions. Sixty-seven percent of people between ages 18 and 34 approved of unions.

Across all party lines — Democrat, Republican, independent — union approval has increased by 16 to 17 points.

This survey comes on the heels of a 2018 study that found a growing number of Americans want to join a union: Nearly half of non-unionized workers said they would join a union if given the opportunity to do so.

But even with growing union popularity — or perhaps because of it — anti-labor policies continue to pollute the national landscape.

There are virulent attacks on public services and the men and women who provide them. Because of the Trump Supreme Court’s Janus decision, for example, “right-to-work-for-less” is now the law of the land for public-sector workers. And these laws exist against private sector workers in a majority of states across the country.

Here in New York, the environment is much more union- and worker-friendly. In fact, city and state legislatures have passed laws giving public sector unions more worksite access in response to the horrendous Janus decision.

But let’s be clear. Every day, workers throughout New York suffer the profound consequences of inequality run amok. Nowhere else in the United States is the gap between the ultra-rich and the rest of us as wide as it is here. A 2018 study showed inequality of personal income in New York is “approaching levels last seen 90 years ago, on the eve of the Great Depression.”

In a city where, on average, a one bedroom apartment rents for $3,000, we know the average New Yorker is working harder for less.

And there is increasing evidence that the rise of inequality is directly related to the drop in the number of unionized workers, both here in New York and across the United States.
When unions are stronger, both union and non-union workers do better economically. That’s a fact. It should be no surprise then that where unions are weak, all workers suffer.

All of this underlies a bold move that we have taken to build worker power in New York. In September, with the help of our national union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), we have joined forces with the six local unions that formerly comprised our sister union here in New York, District Council 1707.

Members of these six locals — Locals 95, 107, 205, 215, 253, and 389 — are care workers who work for private-sector companies, both non- and for-profit agencies. We are proud to welcome them to the DC 37 family.

Unification brings DC 37 close to 150,000-members strong and creates an opportunity to build worker power at a crucial time. There is only one clear way to beat back union-busting: organize, organize, organize.

As part of an overall effort to build a stronger union, we have launched a new campaign — Child Care Time Is Now — to organize thousands of early childhood educators who do not yet belong to a union. Organizers have held worksite meetings and created a website for anyone interested in the effort — childcaretimeisnow.org.

We encourage you to be part of our organizing drives to build our union and shape the future for workers. Please contact the Organizing Department at 212.815.1095 to volunteer.

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