Labor Day: “When Unions Are Strong, Everyone is Strong”

For Immediate Release

September 3, 2015
Contact: Kathy Mulady, communications director
(206) 568-5400 or (206) 992-8787 (cell) 

Celebrate Labor Day: Strong Unions Make a Strong Economy for All

It’s one of our basic values in the United States: If you work full-time and work hard, you should earn enough to support yourself. But we also know that it’s far from reality, when 1 percent of the country is taking home 22 percent of the income.

The Alliance for a Just Society has produced the Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series since 1999, showing how worker pay is steadily falling further behind how much it actually costs to make ends meet.

“The fight for good pay, good health benefits, and paid sick days is an effort none of us can tackle on our own,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society.

“Working together, with labor unions, as organizers, and as members of unions, we can push for economic justice – for all workers,” said Hall.  “We are proud to walk side-by-side with our labor partners.”

Nearly half of all new jobs don’t pay enough to make ends meet, according to our recent report, Low Wage Nation. Women and people of color especially face discrimination and harsh work conditions in workplaces that don’t have unions.

In October, the Alliance will release new research showing that in states nationwide, the living wage that’s needed to make ends meet is much higher than the federal minimum wage, and well above state minimum wages.

Bev DeLeonardis, Alliance Board chair, was a shop steward for Communications Workers of America (CWA) at AT&T. Union members won better pay, sick leave and retirement plans, but also job protection, rights of seniority, and opportunities to continue their education.

“Labor Day is a great time to remember that because of labor unions, workers have a more level playing field and a stronger position when meeting with management,” DeLeonardis said.

“Our standards became the standards at other companies,” she said. “At some point, other businesses would realize they were losing good workers and had to pay them more. It puts more money into the economy. Unions bring up worker benefits – and that benefits society as a whole.

“When unions are strong, everyone is strong,” said DeLeonardis.

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The Alliance for a Just Society is a national policy, research and organizing network with 15 state affiliates. The Alliance focuses on health, racial and economic justice. The Alliance has produced the Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series since 1999.