With so many “essential workers” stuck at the bottom of the pay scale, now is the time for an organized, unionized approach — including strikes and walkouts — to start righting these wrongs.
I never thought I would be parroting an expression from Karl Marx. After all, I’m a committed capitalist — and it’s pretty clear that Marxist-Leninism has been an abject failure (see N. Korea, the Soviet Union, etc.).
One of the key tenets of the apologists of income inequality is that the market makes decisions on the value of any individual’s work. Thus some dumb-ass celebrity earns 100x what a school teacher does. But even within that calculus, there is the power of organizing and choice. That’s why I was so happy to see some May Day wildcat strikes at Amazon, Walmart, Target, etc. back in the beginning of the pandemic. And the “Great Resignation” is clearly a result of choices being made — to abandon current jobs for greener pastures or simply to drop out of the workforce until there is more equity.
But what i’d really like to see if flat out unionization, a new UEW — Union of Essential Workers. The new union could operate under the umbrella of the AFL-CIO — and potentially reinvigorate the organized labor movement.
The Union of Essential Workers (UEW) should include groups like:
- Fast Food employees
- Sanitation workers
- Retail & employees
- Warehouse employees
- Truck & Delivery drivers
- Caregivers at hospices, home healthcare agencies, etc.
The demands should be clear and simple:
Suggested Demands for UEW workers:
- $2,500 sign on bonus (incenting job hunting — which in turn will force employers to find ways to retain their existing workers)
- $20/hour minimum wage
- Guaranteed, paid sick leave
- 100% hazard pay bonus during pandemics or other health/safety-threatening conditions
- Health Insurance, Dental, Vision and mental health coverage
Paid family leave
I don’t know much of anything about Labor organizing, other than that most local efforts to form unions at places like Amazon.com have failed miserably.
Perhaps a top-down approach is what’s needed. Just as Tip O’Neil’s old “all politics is local” adage is outdated, the same thing could be said about workers’ rights. What if there were a Cesar Chavez type of charismatic leader who began preaching this approach on a national level?
Something to think about.