I have been reading a good number of stories recently that feel like labor unions in America may finally be rising from their low place that they’ve found themselves for the last few decades after being abandoned by the centrist Democratic party and then eviscerated by the Republican party with legislation such as anti-union right-to-work laws.
She called for a new approach to save unions from extinction: sectoral bargaining.
“Bargaining by industry, where workers from multiple companies sit across a table from the largest employers in their industry to negotiate for wages and benefits, is standard practice in almost every developed country in the world,” Henry declared in a speech in Milwaukee. “It should happen here too.”
Motherboard: 20,000 AT&T Employees Are Striking
CWA’s bargaining team has been fighting for the past few months to renegotiate the AT&T employee contract to share the company’s record-breaking profits. In 2018, AT&T promised to use the windfall from the Republicans’ corporate tax cut to “invest an additional $1 billion” to create “7,000 good-paying jobs for American workers.” The December tax cuts helped AT&T achieve a $19 billion profit in the fourth quarter and $3 billion in annual tax savings. But AT&T has had layoffs, cutting 23,000 jobs.
Through a combination of executive order and legislation, Sanders’s “Workplace Democracy Plan” would end federal contracts with employers that don’t meet certain standards, like a $15 minimum wage. Sanders wants to end “Right To Work” laws, which ban unions from mandating members pay dues and can weaken the group’s sway. Notably, the plan also pushes for a sectoral bargaining system, which would set industry-wide minimum wages and benefits instead of just individual employers setting them.
The plan doesn’t touch on ideas the campaign had previously floated like expanding employee-ownership at companies (though the campaign says it’s still considering those plans), but progressive union voices have already lauded Sanders’s framework as a model Democratic presidential candidates should follow.
Which this last one isn’t technically a union story, since there appears to be no formal union involved with this action. But it is unified solidarity by labor against the company that could not care if their former employees lived or died. It is an action against a financial robbery of wages that appears to have no legal repercussions for doing so, and those workers doing what they can to seek justice when the courts will not do it for them.