Writing at the Huffington Post, the Rev. Al Sharpton says that Michigan’s recent move against unions should push those of us who care about the future of workers in this country to say that we have a fundamental right to fight back.
It’s hard to imagine, but there was a period in our history when workers in the United States were exploited and taken advantage of much like the way in which workers in developing nations are often unfortunately treated today. It was only after marches, sit-ins and collective organizing that American workers established unions so that they could then fight for better wages, hours, benefits, working conditions and many other labor rights that we simply take for granted now. But yesterday, in the most outlandish, brazen and unjust manner, Michigan’s Republican-controlled House passed two bills effectively ending the ability of labor unions to function (the state Senate already previously passed the bills). The so-called ‘Right to Work’ law is nothing more than a creative way to curb the power of unions, workers and their ability to jointly bargain. Michigan is the 24th state to pass such a law, pushing those of us who care about the future of this country to say that we have a fundamental right to fight back.
One of the earliest lessons I learned as a child was to speak up wherever and whenever I saw an injustice taking place. That basic principle is one that I carried with me throughout my life and one that I encourage others to follow as well. Without a challenge to the status quo, nothing changes. In the state of Michigan, auto workers united and established their own voice when they formed the UAW (United Auto Workers) in the 1930s. And the auto industry was one of the first areas to see recovery following the economic recession of ’08 thanks to the President’s bailout. To now take away these workers’ ability to voice their discontent and to object to unfair practices is a slap in the face. Michigan’s Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican legislatures that passed these bills are sending a clear message: their interests are with CEOs and businesses — not with workers.
Read the Rev. Al Sharpton’s entire piece at the Huffington Post.
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