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The National President's Message

 

By Gerard A. Jones,

National President

 

 

 

 

 

Labor unions have a long-standing history and have played a significant role in ensuring workplace rights in our country. Many of the rights employees currently enjoy are in response to changes in the way society perceives the importance of certain workplace issues. Labor unions first arose in the 1700s. Their importance grew during the Industrial Revolution as the need for both skilled and unskilled labor grew. Furthermore, the Civil War and its resulting abolition of slavery, also helped to emphasize the rights of workers, especially related to employees receiving a fair wage for their labor. Approximately, 15 years after the end of the Industrial Revolution, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) was founded for the purpose of negotiating wages and safety improvements for all workers.

 

 

 

Unfortunately, tragedies have also helped to shape the labor movement as well by leading to further workplace reforms and further solidifying the role of labor unions within American society. In 1911, two well-known business owners employed mostly immigrant, teenage, female employees at its factory in New York City. They were notorious for allowing their employees to work under hazardous conditions and low wages. On March, 25, 1911, there was a fire at its factory which led to the death of approximately 150 employees. The deadliest industrial disaster in the City’s history, known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, caused the workers union to lead a march on Fifth Avenue to protest the conditions that led to the fire. The march was attended by 80,000 people and brought widespread attention to the dangerous sweatshop conditions of factories throughout the country. In response, many industrial safety reforms were established.

 

 

 

Not only did changing historical conditions and tragic events lead to labor unions increasing in significance, it also led to legislative response from Congress. Some important laws passed as the influence of labor unions increased include:

 

 

 

·         The Clayton Act, passed in 1914, which, in essence, legalized strikes and boycotts.

 

·         The Fair Labor Standards Act, passed in 1938, which created the first minimum wage and ensured a 40-hour workweek, in addition to establishing child labor provisions.

 

·         The Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Acts, passed in the 1960s, which helped to eliminate discrimination in the workplace.

 

 

 

These are just some of the major laws that have passed with the influence of labor unions. Furthermore, federal, state and local governments continue to draft legislation to further employee’s rights in response to the changes in society. Recent examples can be seen by the recent passing of an increased minimum wage, paid sick time, and mandatory sexual harassment training. All of these changes are in response to the efforts of labor unions and society’s changing climate.

 

 

 

The lives of many working class American citizens and their families have been immensely improved through the intense efforts of labor unions since their inception. The history of labor unions has shown statistically, that it has a beneficial impact on the membership it serves. A typical, profit-seeking company, where there is no union presence, usually offers wages and benefits that are on average, lower than if its workers were represented by a union. In many cases, the only way workers receive any substantial benefits is through the organizing and negotiating efforts of the union. These benefits are secured by a collective bargaining agreement, which is a very valuable tool in a labor union’s arsenal because it prevents your employer from terminating your employment without just cause and also ensures that your employer meets its agreed upon obligations.

 

 

 

As you aware, recently NOITU has reviewed and updated its benefits to ensure that it is providing optimum benefits to you and your family. Over the past few years, many of you have seen improvements to your health, life and pension benefits. Those improvements were due solely to your representation by the Union at the bargaining table and the efforts of this Union in recognizing the value of its members. Our goal is to always strive to offer benefits that exceed the average benefits a non-union member would receive.

 

 

 

In light of this commitment, I am happy to announce that NOITU will be improving its benefits yet again, this time in the form of better service at the Louis Lasky Dental Center. Over the next four months, the Dental Center will be undergoing renovations. These changes will bring state-of-the-art dental care to our members and their families who have access to the benefits at the Center. In addition to enhancing the Dental Center, another current initiative of the NOITU Organization is to become more efficient and environmentally-friendly when it comes to communicating with you through email and text messages. You may have recently noticed that your Union Representatives have been requesting members to provide their updated contact information, including email addresses and cell phone numbers. This is a necessary first-step in ensuring that NOITU can communicate with its members in administering its benefits in the most effective and efficient manner. It is important that if you have not provided your updated contact information, you do so as soon as possible because future editions of the NOITU Reporter will be sent in digital form. NOITU will always continue to strive to improve on how it services its membership and improvements in technology are just one way NOITU is currently attempting to accomplish this goal.

 

 

 

Before concluding, I would like to remind you that this edition of the NOITU Reporter also contains NOITU’s Daniel Lasky Scholarship Application. This scholarship, which has been provided for decades, is for the children of our members who will be graduating and attending college in the Fall. In addition, for all those who apply, each applicant will be considered for the President’s Award, which is a newly-established, four-year scholarship awarded to the highest achieving student, as determined by the Scholarship Committee. If your child is graduating from high school this year, please do not forget to apply by the deadline indicated on the application.

 

 

 

On behalf of myself and the entire NOITU Organization, please be safe and enjoy the upcoming Spring and Summer Seasons!

 



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