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Change to Win Unveils Major Initiative to Organize Millions of Workers

Monday, March 20, 2006

Labor Group's "Make Work Pay!" Campaign is Centerpiece of Gathering of 2,000 Organizers

Las Vegas, NV - The seven-union Change to Win federation today unveiled its new campaign to unite millions of workers across the country in an effort to raise living standards and improve the quality of life for American workers. With 2,000 organizers meeting in Las Vegas for the federation's first organizing convention, Change to Win leaders announced that the Make Work Pay! campaign will launch on the week of April 24 with actions targeting major industries in more than 35 cities.

"The Make Work Pay! campaign is about ensuring that millions of taxpayers who are working harder and longer with less to show for it are able to be part of the American middle class," said Anna Burger, Chair of Change to Win. She added "We are fighting so that individuals who work hard can earn paychecks that actually support families; receive affordable health care, have the chance to give their children a better life and count on a secure retirement.

"We are going to reach out to those workers who are not yet organized and to the members of the public that understand and support the notion that this country can't exist without a vibrant middle class," Burger said. "This campaign will empower the millions of workers to help them effect real change to make work pay."

The campaign's launch week will activate union members and community allies across the country to support efforts by workers to unite. The seven union affiliates that make up Change to Win are forming local cross-union campaign teams that will work together as single entities to unite workers in their cities in an effort to make work pay.

The Las Vegas organizing convention, which runs through Wednesday March 22, 2006, is focused on creating these local campaign teams and creating a new model for cross-union organizing. The goal of the teams will be to create effective and strong local organizations with the power to let every employer know that when they oppose any group of workers trying to unite for a decent life they will not be confronted by one union, but by seven unions representing six million members.

Burger noted that there is precedent for using the power of a well-organized workforce to turn low wage jobs into solid middle class jobs. "We need to remember that auto, steel, and other basic manufacturing jobs weren't always the good middle class jobs that they became after World War II," she said. "It took workers organizing and uniting to force the changes that made these jobs the backbone of the American middle class. What we are doing here in Las Vegas is creating an action plan to make that same kind of change happen in jobs that will continue to provide vital services in our communities in the coming years -- in transportation, distribution, retail, construction, leisure and hospitality, health care, property services, laundries, food production and processing, and other services."

The Make Work Pay! campaign will create a unified effort that encompasses the individual campaigns of the Change to Win affiliates. But instead of each of these campaigns existing as the effort of just one union, the campaigns will receive the support and action of the other Change to Win unions at all levels.

"We've long had our individual campaigns to unite workers who drive school buses, who work in hospitals, who build our buildings, who work in ports or drive trucks," said Edgar Romney, Executive Vice President of UNITE HERE and Vice Chair of Change to Win. "But as we run these individual campaigns, we will tie our work together to make it all add up to something bigger."

Contact:
Carole Florman, 202.262.1513 mobile or carole.florman@changetowin.org

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