In 2008, union members accounted for 12.4 percent of employed wage and salary workers, up from 12.1 percent a year earlier according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of workers belonging to a union rose by 428,000 to 16.1 million. After democratic wins in the 2008 elections, working people and unions look forward to legislative changes under pro-worker president, Barack Obama. The first legislation signed in the Obama administration was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,
which allows more leeway for women and others seeking justice over pay discrimination (Abrams).
George Miller, chair of the U.S. Congress,Committee on Education and Labor stated:
With President Obamaʼs signature today, we ensure that women and other workers who are discriminated against while on the job have the ability to receive a fair remedy. Ongoing pay discrimination is an attack on all working Americans and must be stamped out. The Congress and the President restored the law today and ensured that discriminatory paychecks are not immune from challenge.
Congresswoman Hilda Solis, appointed as Secretary of the Department of Labor by president, Barack Obama is a progressive with a commitment to work with grassroots labor, environmental and immigrant worker movements. She has served on the board of American Rights at Work (Moberg). Solis is the daughter of immigrants from Mexico and Nicaragua. Her father was a union shop steward, and her mother was an assembly line worker.
In 2008 the only reporting and analysis of librarians and unions indexed in Library Literature & Information Science Full Text was published in the Progressive Librarian.
Progressive Librarian #30 (Winter 2007/2008) focused on Library Workers in Unions with “So Promising of Success”: The Role of Local 88 in the Development of the Chicago Public Library, 1937-1952,” by Joyce M. Latham; “An Indomitable Spirit: The Eight Hundred of CUPE 391,” by Anita Galanopoulos; and “There is Power in a Union-2007.” Progressive Librarian #31 (summer 2008) included “The Union Difference for Library Workers, Salary Survey 2006;” “Library Workers: Facts and Figures;” and “Professional Women: Vital Statistics.”
The lack of attention to union issues in the general library press continues to be a concern that should be addressed by those who believe that library workers and their conditions of worklife contribute to better library service. As posted at American Rights at Work, “Unions are an essential part of a strong democracy and play a crucial role in Americaʼs public and community life. Not only do they give workers a voice on the job and help negotiate fair benefits and wages for their members, but they also use their political and economic resources to raise the floor for everyone who works for a living.”
For the entire essay see: "There is Power in a Union -2008-2009"--Progressive Librarian Winter 2008/2009.
by Kathleen de la Peña McCook,
AFT Local 7463