Union Privilege: The Gift That Keeps on Giving
(Dec. 3, 2009)
From time to time – and it happened again in November – a Guild member will speak up and ask the union to do a better job promoting Union Privilege.
And every time someone speaks up in this manner, they’re right:
Union Privilege may qualify as one of the best-kept secrets of the union movement.
In the early 1990s, the AFL-CIO realized the potential in marshaling its accumulated members for discounts and great rates on a wide variety of products and services.
One of them was the Union Plus Credit Card. I got my first Union Plus Credit Card in 1992 and, while everyone else may rely more frequently on a debit card, Union Plus remains my primary choice when I’m choosing not to pay cash. What makes the Union Plus Credit Card so attractive? Well, for the banking industry, it’s the fact that union members make more money than their nonunion counterparts. And more money means not only more spending, but also the ability to pay bills on time. For the AFL-CIO, it’s gotten affinity fees to advance its mission.
Using a cellphone? Easily 19 out of 20 Guild members are. Union Plus offers a 10 percent discount on cellphone services offered by AT&T, which employs more union members than any other wireless provider.
There are also discounts on home mortgages, car purchases, car and truck rentals, insurance, travel, theme parks, movies and credit reports, plus links to union-made goods from hybrid cars to checks.
One benefit I’m going to highlight here is a WBNG employer, the National Labor College (you still may remember them as the George Meany Center for Labor Studies), in Silver Spring .
The National Labor College has developed a new Green Workplace Representative Certificate Program that will offer union activists the knowledge, expertise, and leadership in the field of climate-change response and green-workplace auditing.
Research shows that sustainable workplaces are more productive workplaces. The goal of this program is to build cooperative labor/management partnerships around the concept of sustainability – the resulting policies are better for workers, enhance the competitiveness of American firms in the global economy, and contribute to the health of the planet.
These "Green Workplace Representatives" will advance sustainability values and practices in their workplaces by saving energy, reducing waste, increase recycling and the use of environmentally friendly products and materials, adopting sustainable transportation strategies, working to protect employee health and safety; and adopting other practices, technologies and high-performance work processes that reduce carbon emissions – all the while retaining good jobs at family-sustaining wages.
The Labor College program is geared to the needs of working adults who are leaders in companies, public-sector agencies, and other organizations. The Green Workplace Representative certificate will contribute to their personal career advancement.
The scholarship program is sponsored by the Union Plus Education Foundation and administered by the NLC. The foundation's donation to the Labor College represents the largest financial aid contribution to the college.
But don’t take my word for it. Go to www.unionplus.org and, on the right side of the home page, use the drop-down to find “your union” – the Communications Workers of America – to get a screen that tips you off to the full range of benefits.
– Mark Pattison