Maria Somma, Director of Organizing for the United Steelworkers spoke with America’s Work Force Radio Podcast on May 22 about the union difference.
If there is a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that people are seeing the value in unions in their workplace. Somma explained that workers have seen the clear difference between them and their employers, with regards to employers being worried about profit over people. She said that some employers have not provided workers personal protective equipment (PPE), compensation, sick days or other accommodations. Somma continued, saying workers are torn between going to work and earning a paycheck, or staying home sick leave. She added that unions in the workplace ensure that people have the proper PPE, safety regulations are followed, workers are receiving proper compensation and they are given their earned sick days. Lastly, she said USW members are involved in a member organizing pyramid where they speak about the benefits of unions and organizing in their workplaces.
Chris Martin, Professor of Digital Journalism in the Department of Communications at the University of Northern Iowa spoke about his article “People Ain’t Gonna Come to Work if They Don’t Feel Safe”. His article details the lack of safety standards in place at meat packing facilities and how the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the lack of standards. Martin said there are currently the fewest number of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors in the administration’s history. He added that there is an overwhelming demand for them to enforce safety standards to keep workers safe during the pandemic. Martin stressed that workers who do not feel safe at work will not be able to perform their job to their full potential. Adding that safety guidelines need to be enforced to ensure the safety of the workers.