When it comes to educating our kids about workers' rights and the role of unions, it's important to help clear up common misunderstandings that kids may have. In this post, we explore five common misconceptions about workers' rights and unions, which will hopefully offer valuable insights on how to debunk these myths when talking to your little ones.
Misconception 1: Unions only benefit those who are in the particular union.
Truth: Start by explaining that unions aren't like exclusive clubs; they're more like superheroes for workers. Unions help everyone, not just their members. When a union fights for fair wages and better working conditions, it sets an example for other employers. This means that even if a person isn't in a union, they can still benefit from the good changes unions make, like child labor laws, weekends off, and the 40-hour workweek.
Misconception 2: Hollywood writers and actors are rich. They don’t need to be striking.
Truth: To tackle this myth, share some surprising facts. Tell your kids that many actors and writers in Hollywood don't earn lots of money. In fact, most of them make less than $26,000 per year. That's not enough to live comfortably. That's why unions are essential. They help actors and writers get things like healthcare, childcare, retirement plans, and fair work conditions, which are super important for their lives.
Misconception 3: Strikes are used by greedy employees who just want more money.
Truth: Help your kids understand that strikes are like the last chapter of a big story. Before workers go on strike, they try other ways to solve problems at work, like talking to their bosses or asking for help from unions. They usually ask for higher wages because things are getting more expensive, or because they see that the company is making a lot of money, and they want to be treated fairly.
Misconception 4: If you work hard and are good at your job, you shouldn’t need a union.
Truth: Explain to your kids that working hard and being good at your job is awesome, but sometimes, it's not enough to get what you deserve. Companies don't always pay fair wages on their own. They might have people called "human resource representatives" who help the company, not the workers. That's why workers need unions or workers' rights lawyers to make sure they get treated fairly.
Misconception 5: Unionizing is an outdated concept.
Truth: Lastly, let your kids know that unions are still very important today. Even though not as many people are in unions as before, many workers still want to join one. In fact, over 60 million workers in the United States want to be in a union. Unions help make sure that work is safe and fair for everyone.
Talking to elementary school kids about workers' rights and unions can be difficult, but it will help deepen their understanding of justice. By debunking these common myths together, you're empowering them to better understand how justice (and injustice) plays out in the real world. Workers' rights and unions play a vital role in creating a better future for everyone, and sharing these truths with your children can help them become informed and compassionate.
To learn more about workers' rights along with your kids and students, grab our Workers' Rights kit here.