January 4, 2012: A year ago, Corporate America unleashed an attack from Wisconsin to Ohio to strip union workers’ rights. Labor has scored a series of victories to start to turn the tide. Can unions and the 99% movement turn up the heat on Wall Street and Corporate Greed?
A year ago, Corporate America unleashed a coordinated campaign to strip union workers of our rights.
The goal was to take advantage of a bad economy to impose concessions and break the back of the labor movement. At its peak, anti- union legislation was being proposed in 18 states.
But the tide is starting to turn. And a new movement is turning up the heat on the real forces that are undermining our economy—not unions, but Wall Street and runaway Corporate Greed.
Labor has scored several victories. In Ohio, voters overwhelmingly rejected an anti-union law, SB5, by a 61 to 39 percent margin in a statewide referendum.
That victory didn’t come out of nowhere. Facing a mortal threat, unions responded by mobilizing members and unleashing a grassroots outreach campaign in workplaces and with the public.
The We Are Ohio movement collected more than a million signatures, leafleted 3,000 worksites, distributed 4.1 millions flyers, and knocked on 1.1 million doors. On election day, it wasn’t even close.
Lessons for Teamster Power
Grassroots mobilization restored public sector workers union rights in Ohio. Our union needs to steal a page from this playbook about how to get off the defensive.
Teamsters in our core industries—UPS, Freight, carhaul, warehousing and distribution—are taking a pounding. Employers are gunning for the contract rights, pensions and benefits of every Teamster regardless of industry or contract.
The mobilizations in Ohio and Wisconsin show that unions can fight back when we mobilize our members, take our issues to the public and take the offensive.
Our Teamsters Union needs to look to the same tactics—membership mobilization and grassroots alliances—to fight for our contracts and jobs and to stand up to employers who are trying to make workers pay for the economic mess created by Wall Street.