As industries change and Republicans in Congress and state legislatures have pushed deregulation and right-to-work laws, union membership has been on a steady decline, starving pension plans. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, union workers, businesses, and retirees faced a crisis and were in dire need of support.
Midwest Democrats like Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have been working to save union retirement funds ever since 2008, when Wall Street received a bailout while union pensions took a massive hit, leaving millions of workers out to dry.
But this is good news even for non-union members. It will help support family members in retirement, boost local economies, and strengthen this country’s commitment to a dignified retirement system for all — which has been under fire for years as conservative politicians have attacked Social Security.
Not everything workers and their advocates were pushing for made it into this bill. The popular $15 minimum wage hike failed, with Republicans unanimously opposed and a few Democrats joining them. That fight won’t go away, but there’s still a lot to celebrate for now.
With Democrats in the majority and millions of people struggling to make ends meet, now is the perfect time for the government to take a strong pro-worker stance and provide relief to those at risk of losing benefits. This Covid-19 relief package, as well as the recently-passed Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act in the House, are great first steps.
When unions are strong, we all benefit.