Before the first unions were formed, and before workers gained the legal right to unionize, there were women and men who recognized a simple truth: In a workplace, employees united around shared values, concerns, and interests gain an influential power the individual worker does not possess, and this power gives everyone a collective voice to advocate for themselves and for all workers.
But uniting people was no easy task, and didn’t happen on its own. It took leadership and commitment from people willing to stand up in the face of intimidation and retaliation, to organize and fight for the right to unionize and bargain as a group. And when that right was won, the power gained from unionizing was wielded to improve their livelihoods, improve their working conditions, to gain employer-paid benefits, and so many more things that have raised the standard and quality of living for all Americans.
The unions we’re a part of today are the legacy of these people who led and organized in workplaces across the country. As union members today, we have a responsibility to carry on this legacy for all workers, our families, and to leave behind a better world for future generations.
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