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Labor leader traces roots of recent labor disputes to pandemic

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Posted at 6:40 PM, Sep 20, 2023

PUEBLO, Colorado — The United Auto Workers strike is the most recent large-scale action taken by employees to improve pay and working conditions in a major American industry. Hollywood screenwriters and actors have been striking since mid-July, the same month that the Teamsters Union called a strike against UPS.

News 5 asked local labor leader Hilary Glasgow to provide perspective on the trend. Glasgow is president of the Southern Colorado Labor Relation Council which represents union workers in 17 counties.

"We're just at a place where workers recognize that they actually do have power, they actually are able to step up and they don't just have to take whatever is given to them," Glasgow said.

Glasgow acknowledged that economic conditions have provided unions with more leverage in negotiations. Many industries are suffering from labor shortages. However, she notes that members must vote to strike if they believe the new collective bargaining agreement offered by their employer is inadequate.

"I think we finally realized we're the ones we've been waiting for. Nobody is coming to save us. They haven't. We can save ourselves though," said Glasgow.

She believes the pandemic gave unionized employees the courage to demand more.

"All the front-line people who stayed at work for my union, which is Colorado WINS, they couldn't just have people work remotely who work inside prisons or state hospitals," Glasgow said. "People had to show up and people got sick, and people died."

She believes that shared experience is driving a larger cultural awakening among the working class that will continue for months to come.

"Workers are definitely worth more. We're so important that we were the only ones who couldn't stop working during the pandemic."
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