No matter the profession, unions are an integral part of the American workforce. Many professions have them, ranging from the star-studded NFL to the everyday steelworker in the industrial sector. Here is a peek into five prominent labor unions around the country to give you an idea of what labor unions look like in action. Keep in mind, this is not an exhaustive list, because there are hundreds of other labor unions from a variety of other professions.
Education: National Education Association
The National Education Association’s stated goal is the advancing the cause of public education. The NEA believes every student in America, regardless of family income or place of residence, deserves a quality education and a chance to succeed.
The NEA’s 3 million members are composed of classroom teachers, education support professionals, substitute teachers, administrators, and retirees from all levels of education. In addition, higher education faculty and staff, as well as students in college, can be members.
Industrial Workers: United Steelworkers
The United Steelworkers is one of North America’s largest industrial union with 1.2 million members and retirees. Since the late 1800s, the United Steelworkers have been fighting for better workplaces, better lives for everyone, and a better world for working men and women everywhere.
The fight for better wages, job security, reasonable hours, and safer working conditions was evident in the past when they lead movements to stop child labor, provide aid to injured workers, fight for retirees, and stand up for civil and human rights.
The AFL-CIO is an umbrella federation for 55 U.S. unions. They strive to ensure all people deserve decent paychecks and benefits, safe jobs, respect, and fair treatment. They also work with federations of unions in other countries toward global social and economic justice. Here are just a few of the unions that fall under the AFL-CIO umbrella.
Postal Service: American Postal Workers Union (APWU)
The APWU represents more than 200,000 USPS employees and retirees. The APWU has fought for dignity and respect for postal workers on the job, as well as for decent pay, benefits, and safe working conditions.
Postal unions with the USPS have experienced many transitions over the years. The early unions had almost no bargaining rights or say in their working conditions. Postal workers were chronically underpaid and fought for higher wages in The Great Postal Strike of 1970. The APWU was founded a year later in 1971 as the result of a merger of the five postal unions.
Have you heard of the SAG awards? This is the labor union these awards come from. SAG-AFTRA combines two labor unions — the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). The union represents about 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, news writers, news editors, program hosts, recording artists, singers, voice over artists, and more.
The organization is committed to negotiating wages, diversity, working conditions, health and pension benefits, preserving and expanding members’ work opportunities, and protecting members against unauthorized use of their work.
Sports: National Football League Player’s Association (NFLPA)
The National Football League Players Association represents the interests of professional football players in the National Football League. The NFLPA negotiates players’ wages, hours, working conditions, retirement, and insurance benefits. They represent professional football player’s rights, provides assistance to charitable and community organizations, and enhances and defends the image of players on and off the field.
As you can see, these labor unions work for the betterment of hundreds of thousands of workers nationwide. They enhance working conditions and make sure employers are managing well-paid, well cared-for employees. Labor unions comprise the fabric of the American worker in more ways than one, and these are prime examples of how they do just that.
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