The death of unions? Not so fast.

The death of unions? Not so fast

By Patrick Kilby
Published in the Journal Inquirer
July 3, 2012

Reports from Wisconsin about the death of unions have been highly exaggerated. Many anti-union zealots hailed the failure of the Wisconsin recall vote as the beginning of the end of unions. We can’t and we will not allow this to happen. Unions are vital for the progress of the American Dream.

It is important to get the message out there about the value of unions to the entire middle class, especially now and especially to young people.

I am 28 years old. I am a member of AFSCME Local 562 and I work at the Connecticut Workers Compensation Commission. I am a steward for greater Hartford, which covers the commission, Bradley International Airport, the Connecticut Fire Academy, State Police Troop W, dispatchers, and more.

I joined AFSCME (the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) when I was 23. Surprised? Don’t believe the myth fabricated by the union-busters that unions are a thing of the past in today’s economy.

In fact, AFSCME has launched a new initiative called the Next Wave and many under-30s have joined to promote the benefits of union membership all over America.

Next Wave is generating a fresh new voice in support of unions. We are energizing our membership and getting them more involved politically.

In my case, I joined a union because I wanted the job benefits for me and my family, as well as to positively affect our entire society. Better health care, pensions, a safer work environment, job protection, and better wages are all the results of the impacts of unions on the American society. The American Dream for the middle class cannot be achieved without the benefits achieved by unions.

You cannot buy a nice house, send your kids to college, have reasonable job protection, get decent health care, and live decently in retirement without strong unions fighting on your behalf.

We cannot leave this to the “generosity” of the big money, big corporations and elected officials doing their bidding.

Now is the time for us to speak out and act. It does not take a lot of people to make a difference. Martin Luther King Jr., who embraced the sanctity of unions, only had a handful of faithful to start his movement, which changed our country for the better.

And to those who are writing labor’s premature obituary: Stop your typing and your talking. We are not dead — not by a long shot.

The writer is a resident of Plainville.

Local 562 member Patrick Kilby

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