By Alex Lasry
The last 20 years have been tough for unions in Wisconsin. Almost every state saw a decline in unionized workforce over that time frame, but no state saw a bigger decline than Wisconsin.
Wisconsin went from 17.8% of unionized workers in 2000, to 7.9% in 2021. Wisconsin’s drop was the largest in the country, more than tripling the national average.
While some of that loss can be attributed to the shipping of manufacturing jobs overseas, a large portion of the loss is a direct result of former Gov. Scott Walker’s push to ‘divide and conquer’ Wisconsin’s unions through the passage of Act 10 in 2011.
There is a direct link between decreases in unionized workforces and the growth of income inequality. A good union job has historically been a ticket to a middle class life. Unions help raise wages, increase benefits and improve working conditions for everyone, not just the people they represent. Unions hold employers accountable for doing the right things and taking care of their employees, especially during periods of low unemployment, like we are experiencing right now.
We’re currently in a hot labor market that is giving workers more leverage over wages, benefits and work rules. Unions make businesses better by protecting workers, and making workplaces safer, stronger, and better.
The renewed American labor movement is just getting started. We are seeing new unionization drives across the country, especially in the service industry. Just in the last year, Colectivo workers in Milwaukee organized. Starbucks locations nationally have started to organize, including three locations across Wisconsin. We are even seeing Amazon warehouses starting to organize.
I am the only candidate in the U.S. Senate race with a proven track record of partnering with organized labor to create jobs and raise wages. When we built the Bucks’ stadium in Milwaukee, we ensured that all 10,000 jobs were filled with union labor from Wisconsin. We are also proud to be running one of the most pro-union campaigns in the country and to have the only unionized campaign staff in this race.
We have proven that progressive values are good for business. Paying workers family-sustaining wages, providing them with good benefits, and treating everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve shouldn’t be controversial.
When I get to the Senate, I will work to pass the PRO Act to protect unions, empower workers, and hold big businesses accountable. I will create a workers’ bill of rights to safeguard workers’ rights to fair working hours, safe working conditions and humane treatment. We need to safeguard unions and protect workers for generations to come so we can ensure that no matter who is in charge, workers are protected.