By Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO President
We are looking back with gratitude at a dynamic, thrilling and unprecedented year for working people and our labor movement.
Every day, we grew stronger and built power that will propel us into 2024 and far beyond:
– 71 percent of Americans said they support unions in 2023, the highest level in 60 years.
– 88 percent of young workers, under 30, said the same thing.
– 900,000 unionized workers won double-digit wage increases this year through new contracts.
– 70 percent of union members who ran for elected office in the 2023 cycle won, with 366 union members elected in all.
Our 2023 wins through strikes, collective bargaining and organizing work will be remembered decades from now as pivotal moments for our industries, our economy and our country as a whole. Our strikes and contract campaigns made national headlines and changed lives—from the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America’s (UAW’s) 25% wage increases and pathway to good, unionized electric vehicle jobs to the Writers Guild of America’s (WGA’s) and SAG-AFTRA’s transformative contracts on artificial intelligence (AI) and UNITE HERE’s monumental wins across the hospitality sector.
We continued to make organizing our number one priority across every sector of the economy. National Nurses United (NNU) made history by organizing Louisiana’s first health care worker union. United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) organized some of the country’s most prominent companies, including REI and Google. AFSCME continued to break new ground, organizing museum workers and medical residents. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) racked up a remarkable 80 plus organizing wins in one calendar year. And many others had breakthrough campaigns as organizing ramps up at a clip not seen in decades.
We defined new industries on our terms, putting a stake in the ground on clean energy and AI. We were a 24/7 political force, using our collective muscle and infrastructure to help pro-worker candidates in local, state and national races win. We led the fight for racial justice and equity, returning to our roots and recognizing what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others have long observed: that our struggles for economic justice and racial justice are deeply intertwined.
We showed young workers that this is not their grandfather’s labor movement, but a modern, diverse movement of people of every background—White, Black, Brown, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Indigenous; LGBTQ+; young and old; white-collar and blue-collar—coming together to take on the greed and inequality we see at the very top of our economy.
As we enter 2024, we’re geared up for the biggest mobilization of working people in American history to re-elect President Biden, protect our democracy and support pro-worker candidates up and down the ballot nationwide. This past cycle was proof of concept that our new approach works. Now, it’s time to put it into action on a massive scale.
We thank you for all we have accomplished together in 2023. We could not be more excited to build on this extraordinary progress and continue fighting for the dignity and respect of workers everywhere.
It’s Better in a UnionA Look Back at Unprecedented Year for Working People
By Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO President