The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) has a remarkable history and is known due to its significant contribution to the welfare of American workers. Being founded in 1887, IUPAT became a great support for people whose rights were discriminated in the USA at that time. The community of workers helped them to feel stronger and more confident and to fight for their rights together. Thus, by 1918, the members of the union managed to establish the eight-hour day and a five-day working week. Taking active part in political life of the country, the members of IUPAT supported certain political leaders and soon could influence the political life of the country because the membership of the union grew and formed a large part of the electorate. It was a huge step for the union as being involved into different political campaigns workers could personally influence the economy of the country and their own life. They were not pawns any more. IUPAT has gone through different periods in American history and has known times of thriving and decline, however, it continued to develop.
Uniting people of a great number of professions, union does its best to provide good conditions for working people.
The seriousness of the approach to the training of qualified specialists is proved by the large infrastructure inside the union. The union begins from the education of the youth. Training future professionals the union guarantees the quality of their work in future. Thus, concluding agreements with companies, the union will be sure in the workers and their experience.
“IUPAT has recharged its batteries and begun an aggressive program of organizing workers and educating members about everything from workplace safety to new technology and techniques to use on the job”¯ (IUPAT).
Taking care of retired workers IUPAT provides the future for its members. Thus, people in the union know that they are secured against unforeseen situations.
However, current economic situation cannot go by IUPAT and certainly it does influence it. What is urgent today is to find the means of struggle with economic crisis. It is necessary to note that the leaders of IUPAT cannot take a laissez-faire attitude towards the decline of IUPAT, not only because of their ambitions but also because of the unsurpassable significance of this labor union in the country.
Today IUPAT is not simply a community of workers but a complex system of apprenticeship, job placement and pension funding. Thus, it is a powerful instrument in the provision of the necessary facilities for people during their whole life. IUPAT has educated several generations of working people. To realize the significance of this union it is necessary to understand the place of working people in any society. Working class has always been an essential and basic stratum of any society. With the rapid development of industry, working class has even more grown. Working families form a significant sector of the society and weakening of the union will lead to further instability of the economy. Economic crisis has affected all spheres of life and made many people lose their jobs and go bankrupt.
According to statistics, construction industry has the major losses in the country. The unemployment in this sphere has the highest showing ”“ job losses are about 120 00 per month compared with 46Ā 000 per month in 2008 (IUPAT). Thus, a lot of members of the union become unemployed. Taking into account the current situation, it is very important for the leaders of IUPAT to find the ways out of the situation and to support workers and maintain the stability of the union.
First of all, as any business in hard financial situations, the union has to look for the spheres where it is possible to cut costs. To cut down expenses is a necessary step, which can help to keep balance. However, it is very important to preserve privileges for the union members and by no means to infringe upon the workers’ rights as this might lead to the decrease of the membership. On the contrary, the authorities of the IUPAT should create such conditions that will attract more people even in such hard financial conditions. It might be either reduction of the membership fee or extra facilities for members of the union at work. The best way to obtain more benefits for members consists in conclusion of agreements with other unions, different companies, etc. Cooperation will provide support for the union itself, enhance the sphere of opportunities for the existing members and attract non-members. Signing of labor contracts between the employers and the union will also maintain the authority of the union and trust to it. Such agreements make people feel more confident about their status at work and about their future. It is significant that all the changes in the union spread all over the country in all districts in order to keep the connection between the centre and the periphery.
Confidence in future is what lacks in hard economic situation. Therefore people always aspire to those who can give them this confidence at least partially. The task of the union is to support people in these hard times and to make them struggle with difficulties. By their own example the leaders of the union should show that there is no giving up.
Encouragement of people is an important component of fight with hardships. If people see a light at the end of the tunnel, they have faith in better life. Psychological support matters as much as financial one. Besides, people should realize that they can do nothing alone. Judging by the history of the union, only together workers achieved their greatest goals and only together they could change their lives. Such policy of the union can help it to keep thriving.
Being the force that unites people and leads them to better life, the union can involve many people and organization that will eagerly contribute to the common cause. Union should become a place of confidence and mutual help and of course such atmosphere should be created by the leaders of the union. The General President of IUPAT, James A. Williams, says in his report, “As One Union, the members of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades will always have a voice on the job. That is why it is so important that all of us come together in this crisis”¯ (Williams 47).
Common idea has always played an incredibly significant role for people. Suffering together, struggling together and at last winning together, people became more united and solidary. The fact that, “our union would be in far more dire straits if we had not come together as a One Union organization before this recession hit, should sound as a appeal for the members of IUPAT”¯ (Williams 47).
It goes without saying that all these slogans should remain high-flown talk but should be supported by concrete actions. Seeking for government help, the union should be ready to take up any initiative of the government.
Cooperating with government, taking active part in political life of the country means to keep abreast of the latest news and innovations. It is necessary to note that government does its best to support working families. Even in these hard conditions it is possible to obtain grants from government, which is proved by certain local unions in different districts. Besides, the stimulus package provided by the President Obama is a significant chance to re-establish the stability of the construction industry. The IUPAT Journal informs that
“The stimulus package is going to address infrastructure needs that have been far too long overlooked. President Obama knows there are critical, shovel-ready jobs that are ready to start up. This approach is vital for our economy, and will directly benefit working families”¯ (34 – 35).
To crown all, it is obvious that the role of the IUPAT in the life of working people cannot be overestimated. Being members of developed national system of mutual help people have certain benefits. Membership in the union gives a possibility to be educated, trained and provided with a job and further on with a pension. It is indeed a substantial help to working class. Educating people the union provides skilled personnel for the country. Providing conditions for one of the largest sectors of society, the union does influence on the economy and taking an active part in the political life of the country the union forms an electorate. However, today the main task of the union’s leaders is to preserve the faith of people in better future. In order to keep thriving IUPAT should do its best to remain a stronghold of confidence and support for people. In order to keep the existing members and to attract new ones, the union should be even more active that earlier and participate in all political and governmental events. Obtaining grants, signing agreements with companies and other labor unions, IUPAT can gain strong authority as an organization that keeps balance despite hard economic situation. Today people need to have common aim and understand the importance of being united.