AFSCME’s Lee Saunders on Why Unions Are Needed Now More Than Ever

Isaiah J. Poole

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees president Lee A. Saunders took to the pages of The Huffington Post this week to call conservatives out on the “class war” they are waging against workers and to assert that unions are “the first and last line of defense for America’s workers.”

The importance of unions was recently validated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics when it reported that growth in union workers’ average hourly pay and total benefits was 4.3 percent in the first quarter of 2013, far above the 0.8 percent raise in compensation of nonunion workers, Saunders noted.

Also, a central point made by a lengthy policy report by the Center for American Progress on a plan to restore economic growth, Saunders said, was that “one of the keys to boosting a stagnant middle class is making it easier for workers to form labor unions.”

Nonetheless, “conservatives in Washington and across the country ‘have fought hard’ against increased unionization,” Saunders wrote. “… They cloak their assault in deceptive terms such as ‘right-to-work,’ and their divide-and-conquer tactics exploit the frustrations of citizens still reeling from an economic crisis that threatened jobs and retirement security.”

In this war against workers, Saunders concludes, “it would be nice to think that the public officials we elect protect the interests of America’s working women and men. But too many politicians from both major parties are failing to stand up for the American worker. Who’s left? Unions.”

Read the full article at The Huffington Post.

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