A New Dawn on Labor: 'Working People Are Reclaiming' Power

EJ Dionne lays out why this Labor Day in particular is cause for worker celebration
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2023 1:15 PM CDT
A New Dawn on Labor: 'Working People Are Reclaiming' Power
Strikers form a picket line outside Warner Bros., Discovery, and Netflix offices in New York on Aug. 18.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

So far this year, more than 230 strikes involving upward of 320,000 workers in the United States have unfolded, along with big victories for unions. This is no fluke, but instead signs of a reawakening for organized labor that has made unions "cool again," writes EJ Dionne for the Washington Post. Dionne notes that only about 10% of the American workforce has organized to stick up for itself in terms of such things as benefits, wages, and working conditions, but he spots many positive signs that "labor's long decline is over." Among them is support from the administration of President Biden, whom Dionne calls "the most outspokenly pro-labor president since Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman." As one example, Dionne cites a recent proposal by the White House that would make 3.6 million workers or so eligible for overtime.

Add that to recent moves made by the National Labor Relations Board, including a rule that expedites union elections, and another that orders employers to recognize a union that the majority of workers have asked for if it's determined the employer took part in unfair labor practices ahead of the vote. Plus, most Americans are now getting behind unions—a recent Gallup poll shows 67% give the thumbs-up. "Working people are reclaiming our power," AFL-CIO chief Liz Shuler recently noted. In recent decades, "unions were not being talked about at all," Heidi Shierholz, president of the pro-labor Economic Policy Institute, tells Dionne, who writes in response: "On this Labor Day, from the president on down, that's no longer a problem." Read his column in full here. (More Labor Day stories.)

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