Why Unions Matter

Contest entry

I must be honest: most young people don’t understand the role of unions in our society. I was one of them. Then things changed in our household when my father lost his job. I’ll never forget that year. I was only 6 years old, but old enough to understand that my parents were going through an ordeal that made them cry, angry and very hurt. 

Whenever my father would start to cry, I would run to my mother. “Daddy is crying again. Why is Daddy crying?”

She sat me down and explained to me what happened about my father losing his job and that they didn’t give him any warning, which left us with no medical coverage for the asthma medication I needed and less money for the things we needed. So the sandbox that I wanted would have to wait.

I said, “It’s OK mom, they’ll give Daddy another job.”  She explained to me “No honey, where Daddy was working, there was no union protection.” What does that mean?

Today, I am 22 years old and still remember vividly the hardships we went through, seeing my father crying and sitting alone on the porch. Heartbreaking it was for him to see all his years of hard work, loyalty, and relentless overtime hours lost in a matter of one day’s notice.

Unions are as important today as they ever were. We need them to protect our wages and benefits, job fairness, education, safety, hours, working conditions, retirement plans, work breaks, vacations and so much more.

Everyone has a right to a job, to equality, to education and fairness. Unions, your voice, your life, your survival.  

Melissa LeBlanc
Award date
November 2015
NUPGE component