Democracy Forum 5/21/21 Democracy and Unions: Do They Need Each Other?

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine

We talk about the historical and contemporary link between labor organizing and expanding political rights like voting.
-Is union organizing an important, if not essential, tool in building a vibrant democracy?
-Has the diminution of labor unions contributed to the politics of resentment?
-Has it provided fertile ground for the current moment of populist anger and stridently divided politics?
-What led to the demise of unions over the last half century?
-How could they come back?

David Madland, resident senior fellow and senior adviser to the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress.
Cynthia Phinney, President of the Maine AFL-CIO. She was the first woman elected to that position in 2015.

To learn more about this topic:
Re-Union: How Bold Labor Reforms Can Repair, Revitalize, and Reunite the United States, David Madland, May, 2021
In 2020, the number of unionized workers dropped, while the share of union members increased, USAFacts, January, 2021
Democracy Dies When Labor Unions Do, Eric Levitz in New York, September, 2019
Democracy Needs Unions, Christine Owens at Other Words, August 28, 2019
The Conservative Case for Unions, Jonathan Rauch in The Atlantic, July/August 2017
Democracy, Union Made, Phil Fishman in The American Interest, September 2007

Prerecorded on 5/17/2021 using Zoom technology

The mostly volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Martha Dickinson, Michael Fisher, Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Ann Luther
Judith Lyles, Wendilee O’Brien, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Lane Sturtevant, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

About the host:
Ann currently serves as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Maine and leads the LWVME Advocacy Team. She served as President of LWVME from 2003 to 2007 and as co-president from 2007-2009. In her work for the League, Ann has worked for greater public understanding of public policy issues and for the League’s priority issues in Clean Elections & Campaign Finance Reform, Voting Rights, Ethics in Government, Ranked Choice Voting, and Repeal of Term Limits. Representing LWVME at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, she served that coalition as co-president from 2006 to 2011. She remains on the board of MCCE and serves as Treasurer. She is active in the LWV-Downeast and hosts their monthly radio show, The Democracy Forum, on WERU FM Community Radio -which started out in 2004 as an recurring special, and became a regular monthly program in 2012. She was the 2013 recipient of the Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Maine for her work on voting rights and elections. She joined the League in 1998 when she retired as Senior Vice President at SEI Investments. Ann was a founder of the MDI Restorative Justice Program, 1999 – 2000, and served on its Executive Board.