Photos: CWA\Dept. Of Labor\YouTube Screenshots (Above Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sits with President Biden and CODE-CWA members attend a roundtable discussion on worker organizing at the White House.)
Earlier this week, President Biden and I held a discussion in the White House on a very important topic – the state of the labor movement in our country. We were pleased to be joined by a number of inspirational young labor activists, including Starbucks workers, a Minor League Baseball player, a SEGA video games worker, a Blue Bird electric bus manufacturing worker, a Yale University graduate student chemist, and a worker at eBay subsidiary TCGPlayer.
To my mind, at this moment in history, there is nothing more important than bringing working people together in the fight against corporate greed and oligarchy. And the very good news on that front is that all across the country, in every sector of the economy, we are seeing a major resurgence in labor organizing.
Workers today understand that at a time when corporate profits are at an all-time high and the wealth of the billionaire class continues to soar, it is unacceptable that half of our people live paycheck to paycheck and millions cannot afford the basic necessities of life. They are standing together and saying enough is enough, that it’s time working people finally got their fair share.
That is exactly why unions today are fighting back against corporate greed more aggressively and with the kind of strength we have not seen in several decades.
We are seeing it at UPS, where the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are demanding a fair contract, wages, and benefits from a corporation which made $13 billion in profits last year.
We are seeing it at the Big 3 car manufacturers — Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors, who have made a quarter of a trillion dollars over the past decade — where United Auto Workers are fighting for better working conditions and a fair increase in wages.
We’re seeing it on college campuses all across the country, where tens of thousands of graduate student workers are fighting back against ruthless exploitation on the job by their very wealthy universities.
We’re seeing it in Hollywood, too, where the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild of America are on strike against the big film studios and powerful executives as their industry continues to undergo rapid and transformational change.
We’re seeing this kind of action nationwide — working people from all backgrounds and walks of life courageously taking on corporate greed, coming together in solidarity to fight for dignity, respect, and economic justice on the job.
This is what a grassroots political revolution is all about, but the question we face now is: where do we go from here?
It will not surprise you to hear that in America today, the deck is very much stacked against working people trying to form a union. With corporate consolidation in the ownership class, workers are trying to take on incredible concentrations of power and wealth. Despite the incredible popularity of everything the labor movement is fighting for, major corporations deploy every union-busting trick in the book to stop their workers from organizing on the job.
Workers are often subjected to highly-illegal threats, coercion, or are even fired for their efforts. Corporations bring in highly-paid union busting consultants and lawyers and do anything and everything to keep from providing their workers with decent wages, benefits, and working conditions.
This is why now more than ever, our movement must stand together in this fight.
It’s why, as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, I’m proud that we recently passed the PRO Act out of committee, landmark legislation which would make it easier for workers to organize and revitalize the labor movement in this country.
It’s also why last night, we discussed the future of our movement’s fight with Screen Actors Guild President Fran Drescher — a conversation that opened a lot of people’s eyes to the greed of these powerful studios.
The economic and political future of our country rests upon one very simple principle: the need for working people to stand together in the fight against corporate greed, and create an economy that works for all of us, and not just billionaires and large corporations.
I’m proud of the remarkable progress our movement has made and important victories we’ve won — but there is still an incredible amount of work ahead of us.
Let us move forward together and get it done.