November 2013

Thankful for Our Armed Services, Our Rights, Our Union

The correlation between the decline of the middle class and the decline in union membership is irrefutable. The United States has the worst income inequality of any country in the developed world as the wealth of the one percent continues to rise as median incomes fall.

It also presents a simple solution for our country – increase union membership! And that was the thrust of the recent AFL-CIO convention held in Los Angeles. Millions of workers in hundreds of occupations support the ideals of organized labor but have not had the ability to join a union or demonstrate their support. Now they do! Every worker will be able to become part of the AFL-CIO through Working America; a chartered, non-collective bargaining union to build union density, support and political power as an introductory step for millions of workers to secure a union in their workplace. The Iron Worker organizers have used Working America members to secure community support for our organizing campaigns and have expanded our relationship to a Working America Ironworker Associate Member Program. Working America provides our organizers with additional contacts through their neighborhood canvassing programs; an existing database structure enabling the Iron Workers to better organize the unorganized; and the means to identify and educate the non-union workforce. Now active in Texas, Florida, Michigan, Connecticut and Tennessee, our organizers can enter contact information directly into the database from their smartphones. This will lead to broader ironworking industry campaigns, while providing an affinity and pathway to fulfill our constitutional obligation to organize all ironworkers and their employers. The chart above is a constant reminder that the future of our union and organized labor will be the future of the middle class. We can’t run from it, so we had better fight.

November cannot pass without three things taking place: Elections, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.

As evident from the recent three-ring antics on Capitol Hill, every election is significant and there are no “off” years. Each election at every level is of critical importance to your union and your future. We remain committed to pursuing a legislative agenda that increases your ability to earn a living as a union ironworker and continue our political philosophy of rewarding our friends and punishing our enemies, regardless of what side of the aisle they inhabit. For every election, you have a duty to vote and a responsibility to make an informed decision. It is the only salvation for our democracy against the onslaught of mega-dollars.

November is when we pay special homage to our veterans to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude for protecting our nations’ freedom. The Iron Workers have always recognized this debt and fully embraced all returning veterans by providing support and job opportunities within our union. Your support for Helmets to Hardhats has enabled young men and women like Katie Sanicky of Local 17 (Cleveland) or Nathan May of Local 492 (Nashville) to pursue their dreams. As Nathan stated, “Being in a union is like being in the military. You don’t have anybody but each other. And to have that brotherhood is priceless.” It is our veterans who are priceless.

And lastly, enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends and remember those less fortunate. We have a lot to be thankful for. After all, we are union ironworkers.

Thank you for helping to build our great union.