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Workers Are Writing History in Their Struggle for a More Perfect Union

August 31, 2022

As we approach the Labor Day holiday – our day to celebrate and commemorate America’s working people – I am filled with optimism.

Tens of thousands of workers, in cities large and small, are telling employers they want a stronger voice on the job when it comes to scheduling, pay, benefits, and job safety. They’re turning toward unions, which public opinion polls show have an historically high approval rating – the highest in a generation, at 68 percent.

And Ullico – the labor movement’s company – is doing its part to protect and grow the power of working people to win fairness on the job and in our economy. Union members work hard for their wages and benefits, and we must ensure that their pension dollars work for them, not against them. Our J for Jobs real estate investment fund has now created 335,000 good union jobs, all while generating solid returns for union investors. We are helping to build America with union-friendly infrastructure investments, including the JFK Terminal One, the largest public private partnership in America. We continue to provide insurance products uniquely tailored for unions and union members. But we don’t only invest in the labor movement, we re-invest, such as with our $100,000 donation to the United Mine Workers of America strike fund to support Warrior Met Coal workers who are struggling for a just contract.

We know all too well the benefits of a union, but it’s worth reminding ourselves and others.

Employees who don’t have a union earn only 83 percent of those who do. Virtually all workers who join together in a union – 96 percent – have access to employer-sponsored health care. About 93 percent of workers with a union have paid sick days. For younger workers, the pay advantage is about 16 percent. For Latinos, it is nearly 40 percent, for African-Americans, it is 26 percent, and for women, 24 percent. In short, workers are discovering what generations before them discovered – that the best way to improve low-wage jobs, and address abusive conditions, discrimination, and dependency is by joining together in a union.

But we still have much work to do. While strong majorities of workers approve of unions, only a minority have one in the U.S. because to win a union, workers must face a corporate war on their dignity and their livelihoods. In nearly half of employee efforts to form a union, companies are charged with breaking the law. Not every anti-union tactic used by employers is illegal – though many, including the Biden Administration, rightly believe some should be. Captive audience meetings, in which anti-union consultants or supervisors quiz workers about their union attitudes and force feed them a steady stream of anti-union propaganda, are used in an estimated 90 percent of union efforts. The meetings have a devastating impact on workers, reducing by a third the number of successful campaigns.

While we have work to do to help millions of more workers form and join unions, I know it is a challenge we can meet because working people have the courage to do it.

Today’s union warriors aren’t falling for many of the stereotypes corporate America has attached to unions. They are asking the right questions, such as could Starbucks and Amazon still thrive if they paid living wages and surrendered a measure of control to their workers? Starbucks paid its CEO more than $20 million last year. That’s 1,211 times the average worker pay of $12,113. And Amazon’s CEO was paid 58 times the average worker’s pay of $29,000. In all, across America, the average CEO is paid 299 times than the average Joe.

It is a testament to the heroism and optimism of our nation’s workers that they will not be deterred by the money and power directed against them, because they know that David truly did defeat Goliath. And they know, and I believe as much as ever, that our nation’s progress toward a more perfect union is an ever-evolving struggle and workers uniting is the next chapter of the historic story. I am proud that our company is a part of that history. On this holiday, our day, I wish all a happy and meaningful Labor Day.