- BLACK POWER RISING
- VISION FOR BLACK LIVES
- ELECTORAL JUSTICE VOTER FUND
- TAKE ACTION
- IN THE PRESS
POLICY PLATFORM: ECONOMIC JUSTICE
RIGHT TO ORGANIZE
The Right For Working People to Organize in Public and Private Sectors, Including the “Gig Economy”
The rights of working people to organize through collective bargaining are being eroded across the country, particularly in states and sectors where the majority of workers are Black. Additionally, an increasing number of workers are being pushed into the “gig economy” where even fewer protections exist.
Ensure the right of all working people to join together to practice economic democracy in their workplaces and negotiate a fair return on their labor without fear of reprisal from their employers – including disabled and migrant workers, and workers in informal, gig, franchised, service, agricultural, care and criminalized economies.
KEY FEDERAL LEGISLATION:
- Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act
- POWER (Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation) Act
- Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act
- Essential Worker Bill of Rights
Democracy is about more than just elections. While winning elections and passing legislation are important aspects of democracy, policies affecting our everyday lives are also made at our worksites, in our apartment buildings, at our community centers, and at programs and agencies we access every day. Working people must have enforceable, not just advisory, roles in governing everywhere in order for all of us to have a healthy democracy.
Collective bargaining is fundamental to economic democracy. At its best, collective bargaining is a mechanism through which working people can exercise collective power to directly confront individuals and corporations who control the means of production, and to fight for a fair return on the labor they put into building, operating, servicing, or transporting goods and services. Collective bargaining allows everyday people to “practice democracy” by directly engaging in the decisions and choices that impact their lives. And as a result, it has provided a pathway to economic sustainability for millions of workers, ensuring they can support themselves and their families. For most of the past century, a union contract has been the best weapon to ensure access to staples of a social safety net such as health care, retirement income, and other benefits often provided in other democracies directly by the government.
The right to negotiate collectively in the workplace is a fundamental building block toward Black economic power and building strong, stable communities. Research and history show that one of the surest ways for Black people to climb out of poverty is through joining together in union.
In theory, the right to organize is protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). In practice, the NLRA falls short, particularly when it comes to informal, criminalized, and “gig” economies (freelance, independent contractor, and “on demand” positions like Uber/Lyft Drivers), franchised (fast food and retail jobs) and subcontracted positions, and agricultural, domestic and care work where Black workers are concentrated. In order to build power for Black workers and Black communities in the long term, we need to fight for an expanded and enforced right to negotiate collectively.
Black workers—particularly southern Black workers—have long been ready to organize and collectively bargain. From sanitation workers in Memphis, auto-workers in Mississippi and Tennessee, shipyard workers in Norfolk and Oakland, to today’s Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, Black workers are ready to fight for 21st century frameworks for economic democracy.