Welcome to the website of the RCCAFA, and congratulations. You, by taking the time to stop and see what your union is all about, have made a conscious decision to become more involved in your union. I applaud that decision.
For some of you, belonging to a union has been a fact of life for a very long time. For
others, it is an entirely new experience. Let me assure you that whichever of those two categories you fall into, your membership, and input, is important, valued, and necessary. Institutional memory and experience are critical to the survival of every organization. It is equally true that for an organization to remain vital, there must be a constant infusion of new energy, new skills, and fresh perspectives.
Far too often in the mainstream media we hear the gloomy reports of dwindling union
membership and the implicit death knell of the American labor movement. In truth, the movement is far from dead. As a matter of fact, to quote the current homepage of the AFL-CIO website:
"When working people come together, they make things better for everyone. Joining
together in unions enables workers to negotiate for higher wages and benefits and
improve conditions in the workplace. There are millions of union members in America from all walks of life. These individuals know that by speaking up together, you can accomplish more than you could on your own."
So, to loosely paraphrase the late Mark Twain, the reports of our death are greatly
exaggerated. We are here. We are relevant, and we are active. Bearing in mind that the following statistic is gleaned from the nation as a whole, and not the NYC metropolitan area, give some thought to this bit of information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
“Among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $1,095 in 2019, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $892.”
The message is clear. Union membership is to our economic advantage. In addition, it gives workers a voice in the workplace in matters of health and safety, which have proven to be so important as of late. Finally, and for me, most importantly, the union philosophy recognizes the dignity of all work.
It is with that attitude of respect for your skills, knowledge and abilities that I urge you to become not just a member, but an involved and active member of your union. Consider joining a committee, or running for the Executive Board. At the very least, try, if at all possible, amidst what is very often a difficult, if not grueling schedule, to attend meetings, become informed, and get acquainted with your brother and sister members. I heartily believe you will find your investment of time and energy to be well worth it.
Former President, RCCAFA
Adjunct, English Department