Protect and Expand Workers’ Ability to Bargain

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Baristas at Starbucks

Baristas at Starbucks (Credit: Argen / Flickr CC 2.0)

Greedy corporations have been on a decades-long bender to take advantage of working people — depressing wages, benefits and job standards, which has led to record inequality and poverty.

Fighting poverty requires expanding and protecting the ability of workers to bargain with their employers…
At Jobs With Justice, we believe that fighting poverty requires expanding and protecting the ability of workers to bargain with their employers to demand higher wages, better working conditions and better living standards. As the nature of work changes, we look at collective bargaining through the union workplace campaign lens, but also through nontraditional forms, including legislative, policy, rulemaking and industry-wide interventions that put more money in workers’ pockets and improve standards and conditions for workers. Only through bargaining do workers have the power to directly confront the corporate actors behind poverty and inequality.

Video From Jobs With Justice San Francisco: Fight for $15 and Just Hours Protest
One example of this effort is our Retail Workers Bill of Rights campaign – led by Jobs With Justice San Francisco. Retail jobs are well understood to be some of the fastest growing and most poorly paid jobs in our economy, and an increasing number of people employed in this industry aren’t able to get the hours they need to earn enough to support their families. Working with the city’s Board of Supervisors, we pushed legislation to offer workers access to fairer, more predictable schedules. And in response to growing outrage over the turbulence families are experiencing due to a rise in inflexible and erratic schedules, community and labor advocates in a half dozen cities are planning to move similar reforms in 2015.

Beyond winning better scheduling practices from employers, these campaigns – and others like them – have the potential to set workers up for more transformational fights, making bolder demands that increase onramps to collective bargaining and ultimately confront corporate power and fight poverty and inequality.

Sign up now to join the fight for fair schedules and expanded bargaining for workers.

The views expressed in this post are the author’s alone, and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.

Sarita Gupta is the executive director of Jobs with Justice.
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