Chris Smalls and The Labor Movement
We are all Christian Smalls. Recently labor organizer and president/founder of the Amazon Labor Unions (ALU) Christian Smalls had a busy day meeting with President Biden and testifying to Congress about America’s woefully underfunded NLRB and failure to protect worker rights. He did something that happens too little in our society, advocated, and gave a voice to the millions of Americans working and trying to make ends meet. He spoke for Americans who love their job and make sacrifices for corporations that give lip service to stakeholder capitalism. But this is to be expected because stakeholder capitalism claims to serve all stakeholders (customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, and local communities) in practice over indexes shareholders.
But that should be expected, and why Christian Smalls’ work is so important. Companies are profit-driven and only take the other issues into account when forced to, which requires stakeholders or government pressure. If we as consumers stand with workers, not just using boycotts and shaming (especially on social media), we can force better worker standards and pay. We also need to recognize the government is a tool we can use and should use. We need the government to build and sustain our movement to protect worker rights and standards. Not all workplaces will unionize, so we need to expand and enforce worker protections, and only government can do that.
What Government can do
- Fully funding the National Labor relations Board which handles labor rights.
- End Right to Work policies (which prohibit unions from negotiating contracts with workers in unionized workplaces. In effect, that means unions have to provide their services to workers in unionized workplaces, but can not negotiate the costs of their work on behalf of workers.
- Increase worker standards for all workers from minimum wage, child care, healthcare, and retirement, the government needs to be working for all Americans.
What workers can do
- Learn about unions, and decide if it is best for you.
- If you unionize be active the union is only as good as its members.
- Keep up the fight.
What you can do
- Write to your representatives and vote for pro-labor politicians.
- Support unionization drives and is informed on how you can, if necessary, start your own.
- Stand with labor. Businesses will try to pass on costs to consumers, which means you may see a higher price, but it may be worth it. Public shaming or boycotts may force them to take from profits instead of raising prices. (In a perfect market, profits are low or zero and unsustainable as they are required to reinvest to keep afloat, we have to force them to make choices.)
We are all in this together, and Christian Smalls is plotting a road map to a more equitable society and economy.