The Union Difference

I have spent most of my life working. I entered the workforce at fifteen years old and am currently thirty-nine years old.  Most of my time working has been spent in one industry, at a few different competing companies. None of my jobs except my most recent one was union; as soon as I started my union job, I could clearly see the union difference.

While my starting pay at this job was average to the industry, as I gained seniority my pay became more lucrative. Because of seniority and my union contract I also earned more benefits like increased vacation time and better schedule flexibility. After our contract expired and several months of negotiations and concerted actions, we voted yes on a new agreement that included cost of living wage increases and some of our other requests. Seeing the difference that a union made, I volunteered to become a Union Steward to help my fellow workers.

As a Union Steward I helped people fight unfair disciplines, discrimination, and corrupt management. I experienced, for the first time in my life, a workplace where the workers really had power. When we had a manager that was doing unethical things, we all stood together in unity. We engaged in actions of solidarity like wearing our union buttons or wristbands together. We stood up and said “No” together. We reported them together. As a team we were stronger together and able to overcome the situation.

Since I discovered the union difference, I am not willing to give up my power anymore. In a union workplace, workers get the chance to have a voice and be part of the process that defines the conditions of where many of us spend most of our time. Workers' rights are human rights, and they won’t just be given to us. It’s time to fight!