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Read NATCA Scholarship Winner Isis Richardson’s Essay

Every year, NATCA offers a scholarship program for spouses, children, stepchildren, and legally adopted children of active, retired, and deceased members in good standing for at least two consecutive years. This scholarship is for full-time attendance at accredited colleges and universities within the United States and its territories for an undergraduate degree program.

This year’s prompt asked candidates to examine why labor unions are experiencing a resurgence and what implications this has for the future.

Isis Richardson, the child of Zachary Richardson (Fort Worth Center, ZFW), is among this year’s 20 scholarship winners. Below is the essay that Isis submitted.

Labor unions have created a means for workers to unite for better working conditions. They give employees a voice to negotiate with their employer in order to advance a common interest. This commonly concerns wages, health insurance, time off, retirement benefits, flexible schedules, safer working conditions, and more. Recently, unions have experienced a rejuvenation. The reasons ascribed to this rebirth include the Coronavirus pandemic, rise of social media, and an invigorating political environment.

It is evident unions have gained popularity. This can primarily be attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, which has had a lasting impact on the labor force. Retail, food, and beverage industries have worked throughout the whirlwind of COVID-19; forced to find approaches that accommodate new health restrictions. After being widely received as essential workers, a new mindset kicked in. Employees in these industries started to recognize their value, the incredible importance of their jobs. Consequently, unions formed in order to demand improvement seen in working conditions and wages. Prior to COVID, unionization wasn’t typical in retail, food, and beverage industries such as Starbucks. The pandemic created a sense of mortality that lent these workers more confidence to demand improvement.

Withal, activism has flourished due to the rise of social media as a major form of communication, primarily put into practice during social distancing. With it, unions are able to connect with one another and gain inspiration, regardless of their success. A prime example is seen with Apple store employees located in Georgia, who recalled being inspired by Amazon employees who failed to unionize a warehouse in Alabama. Contrarily, the achievement seen with Starbucks is salient. After the first Starbucks who voted to unionize, 17 more have joined.

Additionally, the political climate has encouraged the rise of unions. President Joe Biden has proved to be an outspoken supporter, cheering union efforts in the fight for better working conditions. Included in his administration’s 70 recommendations encouraging union membership, was to make it easier for federal employees to join. This in particular has inspired federal employee unions. President Biden believes “unions benefit us all”. Research has proved unions to be a positive for the future of our country. By raising wages and eliminating income inequality, they spur economic growth and raise living standards. In fact, it is shown that decline of unions may have contributed to slower economic growth and secular stagnation: no economic growth in a market-based economy. The current resurgence of unions is strong in the United States right now thanks to media coverage, political environment, and COVID-19. In the future, unions will hopefully continue to grow, helping our country progress in a positive direction for a better tomorrow.

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