Watch: Why Labor Unions Matter

Labor unions are instrumental in the push for democracy around the world, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has supported workers’ rights since its founding. One of NED’s core institutes, the Solidarity Center, is dedicated to helping workers across the globe advocate for fair wages and equity at work.

“I believe labor unions are crucial for democracy,” says Stuart Appelbaum, NED Board member and president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “Often we see when people are trying to tear down democracy in their own country, they first go after the unions.”

Unions also have a role in advancing equal rights for all. “Unions have been longtime advocates for the rights of marginalized communities because for us, no matter who these people may otherwise be, they are workers,” said Appelbaum, a longtime advocate of LGBTIQ+ rights. “And we stand up for the right of all workers to be treated with dignity and respect.”