Vachon and Coyle-McFadden: ‘Who Needs Unions, Anyway? We All Do.’

Labor News

Reprinted from by Todd Vachon and Debra Coyle McFadden on September 6, 2020.

“Child labor laws have been passed, a minimum wage has been set, overtime laws are in place, and there is a federal agency dedicated to occupational safety and health, OSHA,” write Todd Vachon and Debra Coyle McFadden on “’So, what do we need unions for?’ This is a common refrain uttered by opponents of unions as well as many workers who have never belonged to a union.

“Welcome to the pandemic terrordome.

“Since the arrival of COVID-19 earlier this year, the need for unions has become more apparent than ever. From the very start, essential workers in retail, warehouses, assembly lines, nursing homes, and hospitals were some of the most vulnerable, typically working with woefully inadequate safety protections and often at wages that do not begin to reflect the value their work adds to society each day.

“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been missing in action, refusing to issue an emergency infectious disease standard for healthcare workers. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued inadequate guidance, which employers could choose to follow but could also ignore since it is not enforceable. The voluntary nature of this guidance has created an uneven playing field, pitting good employers who do the right thing against bad actors who ignore the guidance because it is more profitable — and they can do so with impunity. … 9/6

About Jeffrey Burman 861 Articles
Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at