Across the country and here in Hawaii, public worker unions are under attack. There continue to be ongoing efforts by the so-called "right-to-work" movement, The Center for Individual Rights, certain corporate giants and Republicans to bust public worker unions, lower wages and benefits, and weaken collective bargaining rights.
So what's at stake? And how does it affect you?
Message from HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira (September 2015)
A threat to all public worker unions has made its way to our country’s highest court. Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this fall with a decision expected next spring or early summer. This case is one more in a string of recent Supreme Court cases that seek to undermine the ability of unions to represent our members.
Relentless attacks on unions have been eroding our middle class. Certain ultra wealthy executives of our nation’s largest corporations are showing that they value profits over workers. Huge sums of corporate money are influencing politics, and are giving rise to policies that decimate worker rights, wages and benefits, and cause a damaging ripple effect to our communities.
Robert Reich, a renowned American economist who was President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, says that a vast middle class is the basic foundation for a strong American economy. Reich examined the root causes of our nation’s wage gap between the ultra wealthy and everyone else – which right now is worse than during the Great Depression. He states, "One big reason America was far more equal in the 1950s and 1960s is unions were stronger then. That gave workers bargaining power to get a fair share of the economy’s gains – and unions helped improve wages and working conditions for everyone. The decline of the American middle class mirrors almost exactly the decline of American labor union membership." (Scan the QR code on the right to watch Reich’s video clip about this topic.)
As your union, we stand for fairness and equality. Labor’s very existence and purpose is to ensure all workers have opportunities to live a quality life. We must continue to join together and keep the labor movement strong – what happens to unions today will have a significant impact on future generations.