Giving a Voice and Choice to Union Members
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Hand-me-down unions don't work for current workers

The Hill Robert Alt

This opinion piece appeared in The Hill, you can read the full piece here.

The recent issue over a potential federal government shutdown reminded us that Americans rely on our public employees to provide and maintain important services across the country.

Federal, state, local or public-sector employees are too often represented by hand-me-down labor unions that current workers inherited from government employees of a bygone era.

Historically, labor unions have played a significant role in fighting for both workers’ rights and fair representation at the bargaining table.

Labor unions laid the foundation for the democratic rights of marginalized minorities when black workers formed the Colored National Labor Union in 1869, 14 months before blacks secured the right to vote.

Thirty-five years later, the American Women’s Trade Union launched a successful campaign for women’s suffrage. Those bottom-up victories stand in stark contrast to today’s top-down operation of unions that are now denying their own members the right to vote.

Unfortunately, union leaders who once fought so hard for democratic rights and representation have refused to recognize voting rights for their own members.

Rather than allow today’s union members to have a real voice and a choice, entrenched labor leaders insist that these public-sector employees simply wear the hand-me-down unions that their foremothers and fathers passed down from the Johnson and Carter years.

In fact, 94 percent of current union members have never had the opportunity to vote for which union will negotiate their pay, benefits, hours, and working conditions on their behalf.

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