June 3, 2023

This month, the members of the Writers Guild of America, East and West, determined to strike for the primary time in 15 years. Two weeks earlier, UPS workers represented by the Teamsters started negotiating with the corporate to interchange an present settlement set to run out on the finish of July. If a brand new deal shouldn’t be agreed to, these employees may strike as they did with nice success in 1997, delaying the supply of products throughout the nation. You could not suppose a Hollywood author and a UPS driver or bundle handler have a lot in frequent, however the struggles they’re at the moment going through spotlight how the battle for labor rights is one which we should all have interaction in–no matter what we do.

On the top of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Individuals have been remoted because of lockdown orders, streaming TV reveals and films supplied an entertaining respite to assist us neglect our troubles whereas supply drivers diligently ensured that very important items reached their vacation spot in order that our financial system may operate.

A essential end result of the pandemic has been the rising appreciation Individuals developed for long-overlooked “important” employees.  We realized how necessary they’re to assist make sure the nation’s financial system can function easily. In flip, these “important” employees–and employees of all stripes–gained a renewed sense of their worth–and a dedication to see to it that they have been handled with dignity and afforded company of their workplaces.

This revival of the labor motion led to the rise of historic organizing campaigns at Starbucks, Amazon, and amongst graduate pupil employees at faculties and universities, to call just a few. And it’s underneath this lens that we should see what is going on within the author’s strike and the UPS negotiations. Despite the fact that all these employees do totally different jobs, their battle is similar.

Writers need elevated pay, higher well being care and pension safety, and higher protections in order that the writing career doesn’t turn into one other “gig” job. Drivers at UPS are combating for, amongst different calls for, elevated pay for part-time workers and the elimination of a second class of drivers who deal with weekend deliveries so that every one drivers are handled equally. It’s placing that whether or not an individual works in a writing room or a supply processing ground, they’re sick and bored with the gradual devaluation of their labor because of company greed and the frenzy for short-term earnings.

These employees aren’t simply combating for higher pay and advantages for themselves. They’re additionally combating to guard the way forward for their professions in order that newer and youthful employees get the identical alternatives they received.

All through the revived labor motion, there’s large solidarity inside and throughout unions. A recognition that their tons are tied collectively. Briefly, employees are united in methods unseen for many years.

Sadly, Washington is letting employees down after they want assist probably the most. Over the last Congress, the Senate didn’t move the PRO Act, repeating a 50-year sample of failing to reform federal labor legislation to boost the rights of employees to prepare–together with when Democrats managed each chambers underneath 4 Democratic presidents from Carter to Biden. Despite the fact that there’s an excessive amount of power at the moment within the labor motion, labor legislation nonetheless closely favors firms and executives who wish to cease employees from having their voice. The PRO Act would have rectified this by growing penalties for violations of employee’s rights, empowering employees combating to prepare, and stopping employer interference to make sure free and truthful union elections.

Nonetheless, due to the filibuster, the Senate didn’t move this much-needed laws. Equally, Congress final 12 months failed to extend the finances of the Nationwide Labor Relations Board (NLRB) sufficient to fulfill present wants. The NLRB is the company tasked with implementing federal labor legislation and is commonly the final recourse for organizing employees who’ve had their rights violated by their employers. On this time of historic ranges of employee exercise, the NLRB doesn’t have the finances crucial to make sure compliance with the legislation devoted to upholding their rights. Employers know and perceive that they may usually not face any penalties for a lot of of their violations due to the restricted assets accessible to the NLRB.

Our elected representatives can not let this stand. The best to prepare and withhold labor is key in any nation that claims to be a democracy. However a proper that can not be vindicated isn’t any proper in any respect. The writers’ strike and the UPS negotiations are two present examples of why we want robust protections for employees’ freedom to prepare and discount collectively. Employees nationwide are standing up however have been let down for a lot too lengthy in Washington. We should take daring motion, move the PRO Act, and absolutely fund the NLRB.

Employees are united, it’s now time for Washington to behave.

Andy Levin is a Distinguished Senior Fellow on the Middle for American Progress who has labored on labor points throughout two phrases in Congress, as Michigan’s Chief Workforce Officer, on the AFL-CIO, and within the Clinton Labor Division.

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