Stakes Are High for Workers, So Unions Are Mobilizing for Midterms

We have a look at the excessive stakes of the midterm elections for employees, together with in key battleground states. Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Staff Worldwide Union, says they’re campaigning to empower working folks, particularly rare voters of coloration and new immigrants, to vote of their greatest pursuits. “We’ve got received to make our votes a requirement, and never a present of assist for candidates which might be with us someday and towards us the following,” says Henry.


This can be a rush transcript. Copy is probably not in its remaining kind.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Democracy Now!,, the Struggle and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman with Juan González.

Within the remaining days earlier than Tuesday’s midterm election, we have a look at how working persons are organizing each on the job and on the poll field. That is 32BJ SEIU member Lenore rallying members earlier than heading out to canvass voters in New York.

LENORE: A few of you, it could be your first trip knocking on doorways right this moment. And why is a union concerned in politics? How come the union isn’t just solely nervous about issues that occur on our jobs? As a result of you recognize what? The fact is, what occurs in politics impacts our jobs.

AUDIENCE: Sure! [applause]

LENORE: Once we increase the minimal wage, it helps us in bargaining. Once we move paid sick days, it helps us get extra in bargaining.

PERSON: That’s proper!

LENORE: And so, politics has an affect!

AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. labor motion has gained traction up to now 12 months with profitable organizing drives on the first Amazon warehouse and Apple retailer together with some 250 Starbucks shops and plenty of others. Polls present greater than 70% of People assist labor unions. Democrats in Congress have proposed the Defending the Proper to Manage Act, referred to as the PRO Act, to make it simpler for employees to unionize. The invoice faces defeat if Republicans take management of the Senate. That is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, speaking to a roundtable of SEIU union members about his Republican opponent.

LT. GOV. MANDELA BARNES: Ron Johnson doesn’t signify our pursuits. This can be a one that in our second debate stated that he doesn’t see a cause to lift the minimal wage. Now, that is coming from some of the rich folks in our society, some of the rich members of america Senate. He doesn’t see a necessity for folks’s wages to extend. Though his wealth doubled within the final 12 years. His wealth has doubled and he’s hell-bent on making everyone else’s life worse.

AMY GOODMAN: For extra, we’re joined by Mary Kay Henry, Worldwide President of the Service Staff Worldwide Union, SEIU, which represents tens of millions of employees in healthcare, public and property providers. SEIU is campaigning to mobilize some 4 million rare voters of coloration in states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona. Mary Kay, welcome again to Democracy Now!Are you able to discuss why this midterm election is so essential for organized labor and what you might be doing about it?

MARY KAY HENRY: As a result of working folks in every single place have had it. Sufficient is sufficient. They’re becoming a member of collectively to make use of their energy, to take low-wage poverty jobs at Amazon warehouses and Starbucks shops and all of the locations you simply talked about, and becoming a member of collectively in demanding a union from their employer and demanding elected officers assist them within the demand to deal with the worst financial and racial inequality in our time. That’s the reason I used to be proud to be with Mandela Barnes at that roundtable after which march all the nonunion employees which might be organizing in Milwaukee with our members to the early vote web site on the Fiserv Discussion board so that folks may kick off the early voting that’s taking place now in Milwaukee.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Mary Kay Henry, one of many large points that Republicans use to assault Democrats is over immigration, claiming that Democrats are for open borders and in search of to create divisions throughout the working class over immigration. But right here we see studies right this moment that Canada is dramatically rising its welcome mat for immigration as a result of it feels it wants extra employees in Canada. Your sense of how the labor market ought to take care of the assaults on immigration from the Republicans?

MARY KAY HENRY: A key factor we’re doing proper now could be motivating immigrant households to take part in getting their household, associates and neighbors and mixed-status households out to vote. We’re ensuring that the difficulty of immigration is entrance and heart on this election. That roundtable that Mandela was a part of final week in Wisconsin, we had an immigrant employee discuss their expertise and get him to decide to struggle for a full path to legalization for each immigrant on this nation. And I feel now we have to proceed to inform the tales of the immigrant employees which might be holding up this financial system and why it’s mandatory for us to have an immigration coverage that’s truthful and humane.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wished to ask you additionally concerning the long-term prospects for development in organized labor in america. There have been some who say that whereas the proportion of unionization of American employees has continued to drop dramatically, that many unions proceed to have a lot better monetary positions largely as a result of through the years they’ve continued to extend dues for his or her members. So that they nonetheless are wholesome financially however many are usually not dedicating adequate proportion of their cash to organizing new employees. I feel John Sweeney when he first turned head of the AFLCIO stated about 30% of union income must be devoted to organizing. How do you see that occuring? SEIU has been within the forefront of organizing however a few of the different unions within the organized labor motion, their dedication to organizing new employees and truly placing cash into these organizing fronts?

MARY KAY HENRY: I feel there are some actually encouraging developments on that entrance. CWA simply made an enormous breakthrough with Microsoft within the gaming division and received Microsoft on report as being keen to respect the rights of employees. So that they’ve organized a whole bunch of employees within the gaming division, and now all the firm, there are conversations taking place. The UAW has pledged a significant marketing campaign on electrical autos due to the infrastructure cash and the Inflation Discount Act cash.

We’re working in coalition with UNITE HERE and CWA on airport service employees. There are 1,000,000 poverty-wage Black and brown employees laboring in our nation’s studies after our nation simply put billions of {dollars} and people corporations simply posted report earnings. We’d like the ability of the labor motion to place a verify on runaway company earnings by the hands of American taxpayers.

After which there’s plenty of nice organizing that we’re doing with the Nationwide Home Employees [Alliance] within the house care and childcare sectors within the financial system. So I feel the elevated demand by working folks for the flexibility to hitch collectively and cut price a greater life on the job and of their neighborhood goes to get extra unions investing within the means and having employees backs to make that potential.

AMY GOODMAN: As reported in headlines, employees at a Starbucks + Amazon Go retailer in New York Metropolis have filed a petition for a union election with Starbucks Employees United. There are 258 organized Starbucks shops right this moment. There have been none a 12 months in the past. In associated information, the Nationwide Labor Relations Board says Starbucks broke the legislation when it closed an Ithaca, New York, retailer in retaliation towards unionizing employees. The NLRB stated Starbucks ought to reopen the shop and compensate employees for misplaced wages. Now, Employees United, the Amazon union, is an affiliate of SEIU. Is that proper? The Starbucks Employees United is an affiliate of SEIU?


AMY GOODMAN: Are you able to reply to all of this newest information and the importance of the Starbucks organizing efforts?

MARY KAY HENRY: I feel the fearlessness and braveness of those baristas to stroll via the anti-union marketing campaign that Starbucks has waged towards them is unbelievable. We’re proud to have the backs of those baristas and to assist broaden the organizing in key states within the nation. As a result of Starbucks wants to know it could be 250 shops right this moment, however it will be near 1,000 in a few months. They usually have to choose. Are they going to respect the employees’ voice on the job and are available to their senses and set a nationwide bargaining desk with these employees? Or are they going to pressure struggle after struggle in retailer after retailer in state after state? That is the selection that Starbucks has answered sure to, in different components of the world, and they should do it right here in america of America.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: By way of the upcoming election, there are clearly many American employees who principally see each events, Democrats and Republicans, as captured by company elites. How does the labor motion take care of the truth that there are throughout the Democratic Social gathering so many company elites who need to consistently transfer the social gathering in a extra centrist route and due to this fact create the likelihood for disaffected employees to be recruited into the Republican Social gathering or in assist of Republican candidates?

MARY KAY HENRY: I feel a key means we do that’s we put our members and organizing employees on the entrance strains of endorsing candidates and forcing candidates to look our members within the eye and discuss what they’re going to do to uproot systemic racism and confront company energy within the financial system and in our democracy. Once we try this, we get candidates which might be keen to struggle with us. Like Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin. Governor Sisolak in Nevada simply pledged to lift $15 wages for our house care members and lift the reimbursement price and assist us manage 14,000 house care employees in that state. These are indications of candidates which might be keen to choose a facet.

And that has been one of many battle cries that our members and organizing leaders have had all through this midterm election, which is, “Which facet are you on?” We’ve got received to make our votes a requirement and never a present of assist for candidates which might be with us someday and towards us the following. It’s vital that working folks root out that company Democrat on this social gathering and pressure our candidates to signify the overwhelming majority of working folks on this nation.

AMY GOODMAN: Mary Kay Henry, minimum-wage will increase are on the poll in Nebraska, Nevada, Washington, D.C. Two California cities in Southern California will vote on whether or not to lift the bottom wage for nurses to $25 an hour. Illinois voters will select whether or not to incorporate the precise to collectively cut price within the state structure. So it’s not simply voting for candidates, it’s voting on points like these across the nation when folks go to the polls. In the event you may touch upon this?
And Bernie Sanders’ criticism of the Democratic Social gathering and candidates for not focusing extra on what the Democratic Social gathering can do for employees?

MARY KAY HENRY: I feel the minimum-wage efforts throughout the cities and states that you just simply described is a large step ahead and is a part of the win that the Struggle for $15 and union motion created in elevating wages and placing wages as a part of the dialog on this nation. We absolutely again all these efforts. And I feel you’re proper; it’s a strategy to put the financial system and wages and work on the heart of our politics and ensure that folks perceive that what now we have been listening to on the doorways from these 4 million rare voters and from our two million members and the tens of millions extra that we try to prepare is that price of residing is their primary concern, and so they want candidates to deal with price-gouging firms which have profiteered off this pandemic and maintain them accountable. Particularly after they get taxpayer {dollars} to create good jobs, they must be good union jobs.

AMY GOODMAN: We need to thanks a lot for becoming a member of us. Mary Kay Henry is the Worldwide President of the Service Staff Worldwide Union, SEIU. That does it for our present. On November eighth, on election evening, Democracy Now! can be airing a three-hour election evening particular. We can be broadcasting stay beginning at 9:00 P.M. Japanese. You may go to our web site at for extra particulars. I’m Amy Goodman with Juan González. Thanks for becoming a member of us.