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Read NATCA Scholarship Winner Dalton Whildin’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.

Dalton Whildin, child of Jaime Lentz (Kansas City Center, ZKC) is among 2023’s scholarship winners. Read the essay that Dalton submitted below.

Approval ratings of labor unions have grown in recent times. Unions are experiencing a resurgence for several reasons. The Covid pandemic was a large driving force behind the organizing of unions. There has been a more supportive political environment. President Joe Biden vowed to be the “most pro-union President ever.” Employees have had easier access to communicate with others across employee lines. Various social media platforms have allowed for those communications to take place. The attention of the media has also fueled the

resurgence of employees organizing.

The pandemic shifted how employees viewed the workforce. Many thought there was a different way to work while others were scared due to the risks they faced each day just by going to work. Employees were also angered because of the new demands placed on them by employers during the pandemic. Suddenly retail workers found themselves in a position to enforce mask policies, maintain social distancing standards, all while trying to stay safe and completing routine tasks required of them while at work. Was this risk worth it when your own health and safety was on the line? Many workers communicated about their new struggles on various social media and digital channels.

Early in his term, President Joe Biden sent a message when he removed the former general counsel to the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) Peter Robb, and appointed new general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, a former union attorney. President Biden also campaigned on a pro-labor platform that included banning captive audience meetings. These are meetings held by companies, usually during working hours, requiring employees to attend anti-union presentations. These are nothing more than intimidation tactics used by employers

to incite fear and deny workers their right to unionizing.

Media attention on the organizing of employees has contributed to the approval ratings of labor unions as well. Apple retail employees were inspired by the attempts of Amazon employees trying to unionize. Starbucks organizers have been in communications with Verizon retail workers. In 2018, the world watched as thousands of Google employees staged walk-outs in protest of a harmful workplace culture of protecting Google executives accused of sexual misconduct. As these events unfolded in the media, workers from all around witnessed these victories, which then became an inspiration for them within their own workforces.

What does this resurgence in labor unions and approval ratings of labor unions mean for our country? This means better protections for workers. Some of these include increased wages, safer working conditions, improved benefits available to workers, and better protections of the rights of workers. Job stability is also a significant benefit of unionizing. Around the country, working people are connected by a hunger for change and incredible courage. Challenging corporations through unionizing will continue to bring about safer workplaces and a platform for workers to have a voice. Our unions will continue to grow, evolve, and flourish with the younger workforce seeing the value in having a voice and being part of something bigger than just themselves.

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