United Steelworkers Local 9460

What Has the Union Ever Done for Me?

by Deb Strange, Unit Chair of Essentia Health Duluth Main

Although some people believe things are great without a union and there is no need for them, here is a brief reminder of some of the great things Unions have done for ALL workers in this country:

-Unions gave us the 40 hour work week – In the late 1800’s the average work week was 61 hours! People worked 6 days a week, and many had 10 hour days. Labor unions went on strike to demand shorter work weeks and in 1937 the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed. This Federal law created a shorter workweek that gave people more time to be home with their families. -

Unions gave us fair wages and income equality – Before unions, there was more income difference between people – a few made high wages and most did not. In the 1940s and 1950s, many people were now middle class thanks to their union and were able to enjoy a higher standard of living. The more money you make, the more you can spend in your community on goods and services. This helps everyone!

-Unions helped to end child labor – In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act regulated child labor on a Federal level for the first time. Unions believed children needed to be in school instead of working in the factory

-Unions brought widespread employer-based health coverage - In the 1930s and 1940s, the unions began negotiating health coverage plans from it’s employers.

-Unions lead the way for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – in 1993, labor unions lead the way to require state agencies and private employer of more than 50 people to provide up to 12 weeks of job protected unpaid leave annually. If you have a baby, adopt or are seriously ill, your job is protected and you can not be let go.

Companies didn't just decide one day to be nice to their employees and give them these and other benefits.

We have them today because those that came before us stood up and fought for them! Let's not forget that!

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