Today in Labor History: January 21
Some 750,000 steel workers walk out in 30 states, largest strike in U.S. history to that time – 1946
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Member Tip: Be a Union Emissary
One of your union steward’s responsibilities is to greet new employees and fill them in on the union. But you can supplement this function very effectively by making a point of talking to newly hired workers about your personal experiences with the union, and making sure that they sign up. Having the union talked up by someone who is not a union official of any kind can go a long way toward creating the needed state of mind that when you get right down to it, the union is “us,” not some separate organization. Your role as a union ambassador is perhaps even more critical outside the workplace. There are a lot of popular misconceptions about what unions are and what they do. You don’t have to look far to find people buying into stereotypes that portray unions as consisting of nothing but fat cat bureaucrats living the good life off of hard-earned dues dollars and cutting shady deals with employers and politicians. Though stereotypes can contain a grain of truth, this negative image is not at all an accurate depiction of the reality of labor unions today.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer