Stronger Unions, Stronger Communities

Stronger Unions, Stronger Communities

Today, our union released a report showing why standing strong together, we make our communities stronger.

Why are we doing this?

We’re standing up for the freedom of working people to join together in strong #unions because each day around the country unions give working people the power in numbers they need to make our communities stronger.

But now the corporate interests behind a new Supreme Court case want to make it harder for working people to get ahead and to improve the lives of all working people.


Across the country, Americans are working longer hours for less money and fewer benefits, despite being more productive than ever. No matter how hard people work, many are finding it more and more difficult to get by and provide for their families, much less take a day off when they are sick or save for retirement. All the while, a handful of CEOs and those who are already rich have seen their salaries and wealth skyrocket.

This is not by accident. Big corporations and the wealthy – along with the politicians who do their bidding – have rigged our economy and our political system against working people.

However, when working people have the freedom to join strong unions and negotiate a fair return for their work, they have the power to help everyone succeed – whether or not they belong to a union.

For instance, when unions are strong, wages are stronger – and not just for union members. When union density was at its height in the middle of the 20th century, so was the middle class. However, as union density has shrunk since the 1970s, a larger share of income has gone to the top 10 percent. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “By most estimates, declining unionization accounted for about a third of the increase in inequality in the 1980s and 1990s.”

Today, union members continue to negotiate for better wages and conditions that have a ripple effect in local economies. But the work does not stop there. Through collective bargaining, union members are scoring victories that help entire communities – like safer nurse staffing levels that help patients and smaller classroom sizes that help students. Together with community partners, unions are also using their collective voice to advocate for policies that benefit all working people – like affordable healthcare and great public schools. Finally, unions are using their resources to provide communities with direct support – whether that is making sure children have access to counselors and drinking water at school or training is available for good jobs.

Put simply: When unions are strong, communities are stronger.

This report looks at numerous case studies where members of labor unions have used their freedom to join strong unions and collective voice to fight for improvements that benefit all working families in communities throughout America. From helping hospitals and airports prepare to respond to the Ebola virus to helping high school students start careers in nursing, labor unions and their members are helping communities across the country prosper.

Over the past several years, corporate special interests have launched unprecedented attacks against the freedom of working people to form strong unions, most recently urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case called Janus v. AFSCME, which would further benefit the corporations, wealthy special interests and politicians that have rigged the economy against working people.

The aim of these special interests is clear. In a 10-page fundraising letter from the State Policy Network, a group of conservative think tanks, CEO Tracie Sharp recently wrote that the goal of the network’s $80 million campaign was to “defund and defang” unions.

The American people, however, support labor unions by growing margins. According to a recent Gallup poll, more than three in five Americans approve of unions, including 42 percent of Republicans. This is up by five points from 2016 and is the highest percentage since 2003.

The strength of labor unions is critical to fixing the rigged economy and political system by helping working families get ahead. The case studies included in this report are just a few examples of the many ways strong unions are making our communities and our country stronger.