December 4, 2019
Leslie is joined by Connie Mabin, Director of New Media at the United Steelworkers International Union. A third-generation Steelworker, Connie is responsible for overseeing the union’s digital platforms. She also leads the USW 'Next Generation' program that aims to grow the union from within, as well as in the communities where we live and work through education, mentoring, inclusion and community service.
The two discuss the USW’s 'Next Generation' program and the future of the labor movement.
Here are some of the points that they covered during the interview:
· The USW’s Next Gen young workers program was started as a way to educate, empower and inspire young workers within the union. The USW recently had their very first International Next Gen conference – a huge success, including a day of community service.
· This is nothing new in the USW, but it added some structure to what they’ve always done over their history. This was especially important as they lost a generation due to deindustrialization in our nations and continued attacks on organizing; Baby Boomers retiring; and many employers hiring new workers for the first time in a long time.
· The timing is perfect as today’s young workers are embracing unions in ways we haven’t seen in generations
- In a 2012 ACL-CIO study, 48% of workers polled said they’d vote to create a union in their workplace.
- In a 2015 UCLA study, 6/10 millennials expressed an interest in joining a union.
- Today’s young people are leading movements, using technology and social media to organize and willing to fight for change: a perfect fit for the USW.
· Young people are choosing the USW. They are growing and diversifying into various industries, making them younger and stronger. Their recent organizing wins at Google and drives at the University of Pittsburgh are examples. Next Gen is a huge part of this.
· Next Gen is one of many efforts to make the USW accessible, relatable and relevant to millennials and others. Their social media channels (Facebook,Twitter, Instagram,YouTube, etc.) their creative organizing tactics, and their many education and activists programs are others.
· The research is clear that unions are the great equalizer for young people, who, unless we do something, could be the first generation ever to be worse off than their parents and grandparents for a number of reasons
- Average union weekly earnings are significantly higher than non-union earnings
- On average, union members also have better benefits and more retirement security than their non-union counterparts.
- Strengthening workers’ rights is essential to reducing economic inequality for young people and others
The USW's website is USW.org and their Twitter handle is @steelworkers. Connie's handle is @ConnieMabin. The social media hashtag for the USW's 'Next Generation' program is #NG2019.