Dolores Huerta on Why Unions Matter

According to labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, unions matter much more than most of us think.

“I think young people are skeptical of unions because they don’t know what unions are,” she explained. “The reason that young people don’t understand about labor is because we don’t teach labor studies in our schools. Young people don’t know how did we get the eight-hour day? How did we get the weekends? How did we get unemployment insurance? Disability insurance? How did we get public education? Social Security? Safety standards? These are the benefits that working people have, that were fought for by labor unions and people who died to get these benefits.”

Huerta is a lifelong activist for workers’ civil rights. Alongside Cesar Chavez, she helped organize the 1965 Delano grape strike, which brought national attention to the plight of farm workers. Through her life, she has remained a strong critic of inequality.

“Working people are the majority of the people in our United States of America,” she said. “Labor unions are the ones that really create the middle class. If we eliminate the middle class, then we don’t have a real democracy, because the majority of people in the United States are workers.