8 Labor Organizations Fighting For Workers
Many benefits on which modern employees rely began as demands from organized labor. To this day, working people in industries from textiles to telecommunications form associations to call for improved pay, benefits, and workplace conditions. The groups presented here, in no particular order, mobilize and speak out to protect the rights of workers.
Leading off at #1 is SEIU Faculty Forward, a nationwide movement calling for fair pay and stable work for employees in higher education. A project of the Service Employees International Union, this organization mobilizes educators, students, and campus workers to negotiate for wage raises and improved benefits. The group has won victories at schools across the United States, helping teachers organize and secure concessions.
Along with fighting for improvements at individual colleges, Faculty Forward advocates for systemic change, protesting policies like taxation of tuition waivers or attempts to roll back collective bargaining rights. The group also pushes for measures to make higher education affordable for all, such as debt forgiveness and tuition-free college, and calls attention to the ways that schools rely on underpaid workers like adjunct professors or graduate student employees.
Next on the list at #2 is the Chicago Federation of Labor, the umbrella organization for unions in Cook County, Illinois. Promoting solidarity among skilled workers of all kinds, this group rallies support for affiliated laborers in the area and advocates for improved compensation and working conditions. The CFL raises the profile of worker strikes, and fights against policies that would restrict union organizing.
The Federation has helped to create resources like HIRE360 and the Workforce & Community Initiative, which provide area residents with vocational education, workforce readiness skills, and assistance in finding job openings. It also offers the annual William A. Lee Memorial Scholarship to rising high school seniors, and works to educate the public about Chicago's history as a major center of the workers' rights movement.
Our #3 is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2222. This union represents thousands of telecommunications and technology workers in the greater Boston area, striving to provide its members with contracts that ensure prosperity and safety. The group negotiates with some of the region's largest employers for the industry, including Verizon and National Grid, to protect wages and benefits for local laborers.
Local 2222 stands in solidarity with other unions in the area, and works to give back to the community by supporting local charities.
Local 2222 stands in solidarity with other unions in the area, and works to give back to the community by supporting local charities. Its Committee On Political Education provides endorsements and active support for politicians who protect labor rights, and its New England Work and Family Committee helps members pay for services like summer camps, elder care, and fitness classes.
#4 in our overview is the Women's National Basketball Players Association, representing the collective interests of the athletes of the WNBA. The Association works to expand jobs and increase pay for its members. Its Board of Advocates, which includes notable female leaders like Kathy Ireland and Stacey Abrams, offers guidance in support of the group's efforts to elevate conditions in the industry.
The Association screens the backgrounds of agents and monitors all contracts, to ensure players receive fair and quality representation, and provides legal assistance in arbitration with management. It also offers support for members' careers beyond the WNBA, including promotion of player-owned businesses, and works to spread positive messages for women and people of color.
At #5 we have Teamsters Local 727, an affiliate of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, representing a diverse array of working people in Chicago. With members ranging from zookeepers to pharmacists, this union organizes demonstrations and collective negotiations to protect against violations of labor law, like its successful strike against Coca-Cola Refreshments for attempting to intimidate employees during contract bargaining.
Local 727 also lends support to other workers' organizations in the region and around the world, and speaks out about the contributions of immigrants, women, and other groups whose labor has been undervalued. The organization offers members continuing education opportunities to advance their careers, and organizes events to benefit charitable causes such as cancer research. The union also fights for government policies to create jobs and protect workers' rights.
#6 in the roundup is AFSCME Local 3299, the largest employee union at the University of California. This group offers in-depth information about workplace rights, and bargains with school management to secure benefits including more paid leave time and a freeze in health insurance premiums. It organizes strikes against unfair labor practices, and protests against layoffs, income inequality, and unjustified terminations.
Along with fighting for better employment terms for its members, Local 3299 helps to promote pro-labor candidates for elected office. The union also demonstrates in support of marginalized populations like the LGBTQ community, and calls for equality and justice at UC. It has released a number of research reports on disparities in compensation and opportunities for advancement at the University.
Next is #7, UIC United Faculty, a labor union representing educators at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Its mission includes ensuring livable wages and appropriate working conditions for members, as well as standing up for shared governance of the school and preservation of academic freedom. The union fights for causes such as expansion of the faculty workforce and fee waivers for graduate student workers.
UICUF's independent Committee On Political Education works to raise awareness of issues that impact public universities, and to organize action in support of academic opportunity and labor rights. The union also rallies in solidarity with other campus workers, and with education professionals throughout the city, including Chicago Public School teachers and staff.
Last but not least is #8, the International Confederation of Labour, an alliance that fosters collaboration between labor activists in different regions of the globe, organizing conferences to form partnerships and share strategies. Through solidarity demonstrations in their home countries, members call attention to the struggles of groups such as garment workers in Bangladesh and domestic employees in Argentina.
Many of the unions making up the ICL-CIT are composed primarily of women, and the organization strives to highlight the unique ways in which female labor is exploited in sectors such as the garment industry. The Confederation supports the organizing efforts of workers in situations of precarious employment, like drivers and couriers in the gig economy. The group also lends its voice to protests against restrictions on the rights of women and other marginalized groups.