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Read Scholarship Winner Sonja Sutcavage’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.

Sonja Sutcavage, child of Stephen Sutcavage (Southern Service Area, ESO) is among this year’s 20 scholarship winners. Below is the essay that Sonja submitted.

The COVID-19 pandemic has helped contribute to labor unions’ increasing popularity and power. Additionally, the continuing rise of social media has created a channel for advocacy in ways that were not possible before. When COVID-19 first began to spread across the nation, companies demanded more of their employees despite the toll the pandemic would take on each employee. For example, my sister works as an ER nurse, so naturally, her job was of utmost importance when the pandemic began to spread into our town. However, when her employers demanded more hours from her and her coworkers it was clear that she, as an employee, was not a priority for them. The administration would give her and her coworkers little gifts, such as socks, as a means of an attempt to show appreciation amidst the poor working conditions they were facing in these unprecedented times. Healthcare workers were putting their lives on the line, being forced to reuse masks and have unsafe patient assignments. Although healthcare workers were not the only ones suffering, across the United States employees were dealing with increasing demand and decreasing working conditions.

The justified uproar for more consistent and fair working conditions gave new motivation for employees to seek out labor unions to advocate for change. New social media platforms have allowed for voices that were previously small to be large with the ability to reach many individuals with a singular post online. The increased reach of technology has allowed union advocacy to expand in ways that were not possible in the past. This use of technology has given more power to union members, allowing them to advocate for change that proved to be especially important during the pandemic.

The increasing popularity of labor unions means that our country is ready for a change; a change to improve the conditions of workers nationwide. In past years, the voices of workers were often silenced by companies across the country. Now, with the increase in pro-union social media campaigns, as well as increased awareness of poor working conditions for people across the country, union membership is increasing. Because the unions have increased their audience through technology and the increased awareness brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the progression towards change will only continue to grow.

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