Why unions are good for workers—especially in a crisis like COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored both the importance of unions in giving workers a collective voice in the workplace and the urgent need to reform U.S. labor laws to arrest the erosion of those rights. During the crisis, unionized workers have been able to secure enhanced safety measures, additional premium pay, paid sick time, and a say in the terms of furloughs or work-share arrangements to save jobs. These pandemic-specific benefits build on the many ways unions help workers. Following are just a few of the benefits, according to the latest data:

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Executive Paywatch

In 2019, CEOs of S&P 500 companies received, on average, $14.8 million in total compensation. The average S&P 500 company CEO-to-worker pay ratio was 264-to-1. The imbalance in our economy between the pay of CEOs and working people continues to be a problem.

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IATSE 784 Members Heed the Call of Duty

Shortly after the shelter-in-place orders were given in the Bay Area, many members of IATSE Local 784 — the Theatrical Wardrobe Union — who work in varying capacities in the entertainment industry found themselves out of work. However, instead of focusing on their own plight, members have taken the initiative to put their skills to benefit others and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Affiliate in the Spotlight: SAG-AFTRA

Meet SAG-AFTRA! The Screen Actors Guild formed in 1933 during the heyday of the Hollywood studio system, when six actors came together to discuss forming a self-governing organization of film actors. Now, from Fresno to the Oregon border, the Nor-Cal local works to advance, foster, promote and benefit all local SAG-AFTRA performer and broadcast members.

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Government Must Act to Stop Spread of Economic and Financial Consequences of Coronavirus

We have heard a lot about biological contagion and how to stop the spread of coronavirus in our workplaces and our communities. You can get up-to-date information on workplace safety and coronavirus at www.aflcio.org/covid-19 and at the websites of our affiliated unions. But what about financial and economic contagion? This is something elected leaders, economic policymakers and financial regulators must take action to stop.

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