Wednesday, 24 April, 2024

Why Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” Might Be Labor Unions


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In 2023, labor unions have made a comeback. After decades of decline, union membership is on the rise, and workers across the country are successfully organizing and fighting back for better pay, benefits, and working conditions.

Time Magazine’s annual “Person of the Year” award is given to the person or group that has had the most significant impact on the world over the past year. Given the immense impact that labor unions have had in 2023, there is no doubt that they will likely be under consideration to be named Time’s “Person of the Year.”

Here are just a few of the reasons why:

  • Labor unions are winning major victories for workers across the country. In addition to the Teamsters’ historic contract victory at UPS and the Writers Guild of America’s strike against Hollywood studios, other unions that have achieved significant gains in 2023 include the United Auto Workers, the United Steelworkers, and the Service Employees International Union. These victories have resulted in higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions for millions of workers.

For example, the Teamsters’ new contract at UPS includes a significant wage increase, a better pension plan, and improved healthcare coverage. The Writers Guild’s strike against Hollywood studios resulted in a new contract that includes higher pay, better residuals, and more diversity and inclusion initiatives.

  • Labor unions are helping to close the wage gap. Union workers earn an average of 10.2% more than non-union workers, and they are more likely to have access to health insurance, retirement savings plans, and paid leave. In 2023, labor unions have continued to fight for equal pay for women and workers of color, and they have made significant progress in narrowing the wage gap.

For example, the United Auto Workers’ new contract with General Motors includes a new provision that requires GM to pay women equally to men for doing the same work. The United Steelworkers’ new contract with US Steel includes a new provision that creates a diversity and inclusion committee to address racial and gender disparities in the workplace.

  • It can be argued that labor unions are building a more just and equitable economy. When workers have a strong voice on the job, they are able to demand fair treatment and a share of the profits that they help to create. Labor unions also play an important role in advocating for policies that might benefit working families, such as more affordable housing, quality education, and universal healthcare.

For example, the Service Employees International Union has been a leading advocate for raising the minimum wage. The American Federation of Teachers has been a leading advocate for increasing funding for public schools. And the National Nurses United has been a leading advocate for expanding Medicare to all Americans.

In short, labor unions have had a profound impact on the lives of millions of people in 2023. By organizing and fighting back, workers have made significant gains in terms of pay, benefits, and working conditions. Labor unions are also helping to build a more just and equitable economy.

For all of these reasons, Time magazine might very well name labor unions as its “Person of the Year” for 2023.

In addition to the above, here are some other specific examples of the impact that labor unions have had in 2023:

  • Labor unions have helped to improve safety conditions in the workplace. For example, the United Mine Workers of America has been a leading advocate for stricter safety standards in the coal mining industry.
  • Labor unions have helped to protect workers’ rights. For example, the Communications Workers of America has been a leading advocate against outsourcing and job losses in the telecommunications industry.
  • Labor unions have helped to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. For example, the AFL-CIO has been a leading advocate for policies that support women, workers of color, and LGBTQ+ workers.

With all these positive stories and examples there are dark clouds.  For example, there have been significant labor shortages in the United States that have given significant leverage. What happens when the demand in labor declines?  Some might argue such is very unlikely, but all one has to do is look at the text industry the last few years. It wasn’t long ago when tech workers were in huge demand. Since 2022 there have been approximately 300,000 tech workers laid off. It is highly likely that layoffs will follow a change in employee demand.

Labor unions play a role building a more just and equitable economy. They give workers a voice on the job and help them to demand fair treatment and a share of the profits that they help to create. In 2023, Currently labor unions have made a comeback, and they are having a significant impact on the lives of millions of people. For all of these reasons, Time Magazine should name labor unions as its “Person of the Year” for 2023.

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