WHY ARE UNIONS STILL RELEVANT TODAY???
By Gerard A. Jones, NOITU National President
In 2012, we experienced one of the most profound presidential campaigns, in which the Republican Party supported by deep pocket contributions and radical idealogical segments of the party, failed to recognize that today’s America is made up of a diverse population, whose political voices must be heard and represented. The Republican Party and their presidential nominee failed to recognize the fact, that minorities and the working class are a very important element in this and future elections; any party in a national or local campaign that does not recognize this will in fact experience the same result as in our recent presidential election.
Labor Unions through their diverse membership played an important role in the election by garnering support of their membership to help re-elect President Barack Obama. Last year, we experienced an unprecedented attack on union workers both in the public and private sector, where states such as Indiana and Michigan voted to become the 23rd and 24th Right to Work States. Ohio passed a bill to restrict public worker’s right to bargain collectively, which was signed into law over the objection of workers and unions. The unions and voters rallied to have the bill repealed, and were successful in defeating the bill within eight months of its passing.
The Ohio vote to repeal the bill gave a new lease on life to public sector labor unions in Ohio, which has been under tremendous pressure to get the bill repealed. Failure would have brought not only the loss of most of their bargaining rights including the right to strike, but would also have called into question what had long been their central strength---their ability to organize and deliver votes.
Unions created the middle class; this is a self-evident truth. Had workers not unionized earlier this century, we would never have the switch from blue collar worker parents to white collar college grad children. To attack the instrument that created the middle class in a recession where the middle class is evaporating into thin air is an attack on the idea of the middle class itself.
Unions protect workers’ rights. Without unions, we wouldn’t have the 8 hour workday or the 40 hour workweek. We wouldn’t have safety regulations for dangerous professionals. We wouldn’t have worker’s compensation for when people get injured for doing their job. All these things we take for granted now as luxuries are not luxuries, but rather rights that were fought long and hard for. We are reaping the benefits both private and public sector workers.
Unions have undoubtedly left their mark on the economy and continue to be significant forces that shape the business and political environments and assist workers in obtaining better wages, health, pension benefits and working conditions.
Even during this recession, NOITU and its representatives continue to negotiate contracts that provide for increases in wages and benefit improvements for our members.
During 2012, we were successful in organizing over 300 new members into our ranks.
This year, NOITU and its affiliated locals must review all our Collective Bargaining Agreements to ensure that our contracts are in compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health reform law passed in March 2010, even though we have implemented some provisions that became effective already. We must become compliant for all the changes that are scheduled to become effective on January 1, 2014. This will require negotiations with your employer to make modifications to contracts that do not currently meet the requirement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This could result in changes to your health benefits where your current plan doesn’t meet the essential benefit requirements under the new law.
The NOITU Individual Account Plan (NOITUIAP) had a very good return on investment of the plan’s assets in 2012, and members who are currently participants in the Plan were mailed a statement earlier this year. This program is available to all members. If your current Collective Bargaining Agreement does not include the NOITUIAP, please speak to your NOITU Representative and let them know that you would like them to negotiate for this program in your next contract. This is your retirement plan that also gives you the option of deferring your own money on a pre-tax basis into the Plan to supplement your retirement when you reach retirement age. To learn more about the Plan, please contact your representative.
Members with sons and daughters graduating high school this year, and plan on attending college in the Fall are eligible to apply for the Daniel Lasky Scholarship provided by NOITU. See the application in this issue of the NOITU Reporter.
Thank you for your continued support and may God Bless America!