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EARNCon Plenary: Voices from the frontlines of new union organizing: Worker power, state policy, and racial, gender, and economic justice
September 29, 2022 @ 8:00 am - 9:30 am
- Jennifer Sherer (Moderator), Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN)
- Tia Banks, SEIU Local 512 – Virginia
- Jacob Oldefest, Denver Health Workers United (CWA)
- Libby Vasey, Ohio Federation of Teachers (AFT)
This plenary will feature workers sharing their motivations and strategies for organizing new unions in public services, health care, and other frontline occupations, while illustrating opportunities to expand state and local policies that advance worker power. Workers across the country are organizing new unions to improve their work lives and the public services they provide, often against long odds, and sometimes without full legal rights to unionize and collectively bargain. Such rights are essential for all workers, yet millions of workers lack full union rights due to long-standing occupational exclusions in federal labor laws. Millions more face steep barriers to unionization in temp work, gig work, franchised industries, or other “fissured” workplaces. Rooted in racism and sexism, these exclusions and barriers contribute to economic, racial, and gender inequalities across the labor market and economy—while leaving it up to each state to set policies on union rights for millions of workers. This session will consider lessons from workers’ experiences in recent organizing campaigns from states with a range of strong or weak union laws, the difference unions make in workers’ lives and to the public good, and how state policies shape workers’ ability to build power.