The American Workforce Association or (AWA) is a community organization that exists to educate workers about their rights in the workplace and assists them in improving their economic circumstances.
We have support across New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and the metro DC area from labor leaders, white-collar professionals, students, political consultants, millennials, older workers, from all races. We have been developing alliances with labor unions, civil rights organizations, social justice groups, academics, lawyers, policy experts, and white collar professionals. We unite those from different political beliefs in the need to fight for economic justice for all.
We are at a moment of crisis in the United States. Throughout American history, paradigm shifts have occurred periodically. They change our way of thinking and allow for growth when conditions have deteriorated & change is necessary. Every so often in history, paradigms are broken. We are at such a point again where we need to change our pattern of living.
We live in an age where prosperity is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. Experts* say the millennial generation will be the first generation to be worse off than their parents.
More and more talking heads are hailing the coming of the “gig economy” where most workers won’t be permanent employees but will have more freedom. However, this quote-unquote freedom is at the expense of good pay, benefits, and the stability necessary to plan for the future.
Currently, while unemployment is down, a third of the country is working two jobs to survive. 40% of America cannot readily access $500 in case of an emergency. This is all due to the fact that the past 40 years wages have not kept pace with inflation.
Americans have been struggling to get by for far too long. The jobs at the plants that built families and neighborhoods after WWII have gone away. The American Dream itself has transformed since the era of Horatio Alger’s rags to riches stories and the dream of white picket fences. Now the American Dream is embodied by Tony Montana and Donald Trump.
For the last year, we have been feeling the effects of the election of someone who believes in enriching himself and his cronies at the expense of the public.
Recently, the Supreme Court dealt a major blow to public sector unions in the Janus case by forcing them to service members who do not have to pay their fair share of fees for the services they receive.
This is on top of the work done undermining some of the reforms President Obama was able to enact via regulation. This included expanding overtime to those earning middle class salaries and holding corporations responsible for the labor practices of their franchisees, just to name a few.
This is what happens when you have a reactionary billionaire class subverting democracy and a crook desecrating the White House.
However, Trump and his policies are not an aberration. Even with his historic victory, President Obama faced an unprecedented amount of opposition to his agenda and was forced to deal with Republicans in Congress who often called into question his legitimacy. This is the end result of a long process which has seen the rule of the rich increase at the expense of everyone but the 1%.
Inequality has increased in America while labor union membership has decreased.
The opposition to labor unions is funded by the same special interest groups that do not believe in paying a living wage nor enforcing laws to combat racism and sexism. They believe that corporate profit is important above all else, at the expense of the of workers, product quality, and protecting the environment. There is little in place to check their belief and their actions towards that end.
Labor unions at their height raised the American standard of living to the highest in the world, served as a pillar of the Democratic Party, and funded several progressive causes, including the Civil Rights movement.
When union membership was at its highest, companies gave their employees generous salaries and benefits to offset the threat of their corporations becoming unionized. Thus, everyone benefited. However, unions were caught off guard when they were sitting on their laurels and have never recovered. They believed in Corporate America and the promise of prosperity.
During the mid 70’s, this all changed. CEOs decided they wanted to make more money and didn’t like the bargains they had made. They moved their plants overseas and downsized their workforce. Too bad for the factory workers who took orders. Now they had to make it on their own.
Union operations are now mired in red tape that prevents many of the tactics that initially allowed them to grow. And their reputation could be better between Soprano references and attacks like those of Chris Christie. At their height, they represented ⅓ of the American workforce. Now they represent less than 14%.
In the majority opinion for the Janus case, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr. wrote “agency fees cannot be upheld on the ground that they promote an interest in ‘labor peace.’” “Labor peace” is the idea that unions, the contracts they negotiate, and the benefits derived to keep workers operating in a docile fashion and avoid strikes that disrupt business. We have had “labor peace” for far too long at the expense of everyone who needs to earn a paycheck.
Something must be done. There is dignity in work no matter the task. It’s a means to provide for yourself and enrich your community. The dignity is in part signified by a living wage and benefits. Anything less is an insult. To rectify this insult, we must fight back. We must organize.
In the darkest of situations, there is always a glimmer of light that will shine through. That’s where AWA comes in. We are the light shining through.
AWA is for those who feel left out and beaten down. We will serve as a resource for struggling workers whose job situation is temporary or precarious.
For those who have questions on how to speak to their manager on certain issues, we plan to connect people with job counselors to help them deal with management. Those with legal questions can be referred to a pro-bono lawyer to educate them on their rights.
We are also seeking new models of organization to assist professional workers who should not be struggling to make ends meet. Many of them are ineligible to join a union as they are 1099 independent contractors. Joining together in solidarity is a proven method to lift uplift workers.
This is just one of the reasons that labor law needs to be fundamentally transformed in the United States. However, this is not going to happen the way things have been going. We need to be at the forefront of the fight for better working conditions using innovative strategies.
We must unite in our common struggle for the fight for labor rights is related to justice in the areas of housing, transportation, the environment, feminism, and civil rights. We must unite because our enemies are united and love to divide and conquer.
But we do not seek to reinvent the wheel. Nor do we pretend to have all the answers. We will work with anyone who believes that it is unjust that inequality has risen to an egregious level in the United States, the wealthiest country in the world.
AWA advocates for better labor laws for all workers. We oppose discrimination in the workplace of any kind. We are also ardent advocates of the need for a $15 an hour minimum wage now.
And while federal law is very difficult, we have a great opportunity here in New Jersey to make great progress on labor issues under Governor Murphy. It is necessary to take advantage of the moment for time and tide wait for no man.
We here at AWA will uplift the struggling and those who still believe in the American Dream. We will bring together the dispossessed, the frustrated, those who deserve more and have been forced to struggle while the plutocracy thrives. But we will not call them victims. We will empower them. We will empower ourselves. We are the change we seek.
Learn more and sign up with us. Join our cause and the fight! Together we’ll win!