To ensure healthy families and communities, workers need the benefit of family-friendly policies in the workplace. They need to be able to take days off in case they or a loved one are sick. They need affordable health coverage that protects their families. These are basic benefits that are becoming far too rare for too many people.

A new study from the University of California, Berkeley, finds that unions make a difference in making sure workers have such benefits.

Unions promote compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act, and their members are more likely to know about and exercise their rights under the act.

Unions are key to ensuring that workers have flexibility in handling their family and work responsibilities. On the other hand, corporations have tried to eliminate benefits such as paid sick leave, time off and health care coverage, and continue to fight legislation meant to help working people (i.e. expanding unemployment insurance benefits and meaningful health care reform).

For those reasons, workers need the freedom to form a union and bargain for a better life. Otherwise, big business will continue to chip away at family-friendly practices.

Mary Ann Larson, New Gloucester

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