News & Events

Who do you want talking to your children about unions?

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
September 2007 Edition

By Deb Rigiero, RN
Associate Director, Organizing

Have you heard or seen the commercials about kids and drugs? My favorite is the commercial where the dog talks to the young girl about smoking pot. I also like the one on the radio when the kids are stopped by the police and you can hear the bottles rolling around. The question posed by these commercials is who do you want to be the one to talk to your children about drugs? Well, my question to you is who do you want to talk to your children about unions? Unlike drug education, there is no union education in the classrooms. If we hadn’t talked to our kids about the union then my oldest son’s first union lesson would have come from his first job.

In that job, during orientation, they mentioned that there was no need for a union because they were one big happy family and they didn’t need a third party getting involved. It was even in the handbook they issued him.

I have actually heard people say that unions are passé. We needed them in the past, but not today. We have become complacent in our work environment. Unions have had to fight against the boss whose goal is to get the most work for the least amount of money to maximize the profits for the company.

Unions have fought for and won benefits that include:

  • An eight-hour workday
  • A 40-hour work week
  • Paid vacations
  • Pensions
  • Health care
  • Overtime
  • Sick time
  • Workplace safety
  • Child labor laws
  • Living wages

Unions are still struggling against corporations. Many of the benefits we enjoy under our contracts are under attack. Take a minute to think about where you would be without your union and your contract. Who is going to tell your children about what it means to be in a union? Who is going to teach your child that an injury to one is an injury to all? Are my grandchildren going to know what it means to work an eight-hour day, get paid overtime and work in a safe environment? Our children are the next generation of workers (unless they own a company). Allowing management to teach our children about unions is like allowing drug dealers to teach our children about drugs. So I ask you, who do you want to be the first one to talk to your children about unions?