By Ray Curry, Secretary-Treasurer, UAW
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for Super Bowl LIV. The big game matches the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers and marks the first time these two have met in a Super Bowl. So how will the big game turn out? I’ve got the answer already. Because of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and the collective bargaining they have put into place, the men and women who represent both teams in jobs on the field and off, win. As does America.
Before the guys clash helmets on the field, I want to talk a little bit about how critical union representation is for anyone who gets up and goes to work every day. And, regardless of where you report to work — whether it’s on a football field, behind a desk, in a factory, at a casino, in a classroom, in a bookstore, at the post office, in a museum — having a union means that your rights are protected.
Giving Solidarity the ball
Union representation assures that the terms of the collective bargaining agreement are met; that negotiating retirement and insurance benefits are bargained for; that member services and activities are provided; that health and safety standards are put in place and followed; that workers are paid a fair wage and have a voice in their workplace. And by the way, our union brothers and sisters are the backbone of their communities, providing assistance and support to charitable and community organizations across this country.
I believe that every worker, in every job, should have those rights and protections. And a lot of people agree with me. In fact, approval ratings for unions is at a 50-year high. I think we saw clear evidence of that this past fall during the history-making strike against General Motors. All of us, standing up to this massive, powerful, multi-billion-dollar company. But all that money and all that power was no match for my union brothers and sisters who stood in Solidarity and ultimately drove into the end zone with a victory.
That’s the power of Solidarity, of working men and women standing strong together. Support poured in from across this nation and around the world, and our NFLPA brothers and sisters were right there alongside us. From my own seat here at the UAW, I can’t thank the pro-union NFL players enough who turned up on our picket lines and stood with the nearly 50,000 of us in front of plants across this country, marching with us in the heat, the cold and the rain for fair wages and a fair contract. And just as we have in the past, the UAW will be there to support the NFLPA in 2021 as they enter into their bargaining.
Marching America down the field
That’s what it’s all about. Standing together to protect our right to collectively bargain and have representation in the workplace. And, make no mistake, when we stand together, we win. But the forces working against us and the right to collectively bargain are fierce, formidable and with a game plan all their own. Corporations and the politicians they have working for them will stop at nothing to erode union representation and make it more and more difficult to organize. Our strength is our Solidarity.
For working men and women, the game is always the same. We take the field against management and the companies who put profits ahead of the very people who make them profitable. As in football, ours too is a game of inches, and we fight for every single one of them. So, like I say, I already know who the winners are in the 2020 Super Bowl. (I am not claiming that to know what Kansas City might bring and what the 49ers might have planned to stop them!) I’m just saying, I know the winning job unions have done for all of us on whatever field we play on or whatever game we’re playing.
(It should be a good matchup — and know that you’ve got Union Labor on both benches that all of America will be rooting for.)