While nationwide union density has increased since the beginning of the pandemic, unions are still under attack as corporations threaten to outsource labor.
IUE-CWA National Program Director Heather Atkinson discussed efforts to save union jobs at a lightbulb manufacturing plant in Ohio and what needs to be done by the federal government to enhance labor rights and make organizing easier.
Union jobs in Ohio
Atkinson explained how 80 union jobs are at risk in Bucyrus, Ohio. Recently, a corporation purchased a lightbulb manufacturing plant in the city and has announced they will be outsourcing the labor to China.
The plant manufactures lightbulbs for a partner of Walmart. Despite talk from Walmart of American jobs and manufacturing, they are sitting back and allowing jobs to be outsourced.
In an effort to spread the word, Atkinson said the IUE-CWA organized a nationwide day of action this past Saturday. Union members and supporters held demonstrations outside of about 50 Walmart stores throughout the U.S. They spoke with customers of Walmart’s inaction, which she said went very well.
They told people about the good wages that would be lost, the benefits that would disappear and how the loss of the jobs would ripple through communities.
The union plans on holding another day of action on Feb. 20 at even more Walmart stores.
Labor law reform
Atkinson said the federal government is in a position to pass the most meaningful labor law legislation in decades.
She said the PRO Act is greatly needed to help American workers get what they deserve. The legislation would make it easier to organize unions and conduct union business. Now that Democrats control the House, Senate and White House, Atkinson believes this should be a priority.
Highlighting the need for the pandemic, she said many workers faced anti-union, corporate scare tactics to intimidate them during the organizing process. This is why the PRO Act is needed, so CEO’s and other high-up business officials can not lie to and intimidate workers as they exercise their right.