Organization Combines Union, Outdoor Interests
With millions of union members regularly enjoying outdoor activities like hunting and fishing, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has found great success in focusing on where the interests of the labor movement and outdoor enthusiasts meet.
In a speech to the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO executive board meeting in Orlando on Feb. 22, USA Executive Director Fred Myers said those interests are more common than many people realize. Formed a little over five years ago to advance causes important to union members and outdoor enthusiasts, the USA now has more than 60,000 members and has done a tremendous amount of good across the country.
“They’re passionate about their families, they're passionate about their jobs and their union and they’re passionate about their love for the outdoors,” Myers said of the USA members. “Being a sportsman or woman is not something these folks do; it’s who they are.”
With its flagship Boots on the Ground program, the USA gathers its highly-skilled union members from a variety of unions and trades to volunteer on outdoors-related projects that revitalize communities and show residents the value of union workers. The result, Myers said, has been more outdoor offerings and a public that better understands the role union workers play in their communities.
“They’re empowering outdoors men and women and creating good will,” he said. “They’re putting forth a positive image of our union partners in key communities where they live and work. That is what the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is all about.”
They also have a national presence through the television show “Your Brotherhood Outdoors” – a program that was recently voted the most popular hunting and fishing show on the Sportsmen’s Channel.
“We’re proud to inform and engage millions of outdoors men and women,” Myers said.
He added the strong link between union workers and the outdoors was not much of a surprise – more than 6 million of the 13 million active union members working with AFL-CIO-affiliated unions take part in hunting, fishing, shooting, camping or some other outdoor activity. Without the opportunities provided by having the good pay and benefits of a union job, Myers said, many of those workers would likely not have the opportunity to enjoy those activities in the first place.
“However they enjoy the outdoors, their union plays a huge, huge part in making their outdoor way of life possible,” Myers said. “Without a good union job and without a fair wage and safe working conditions and excellent health care and guaranteed time off, it would be impossible for these millions of union sportsmen and women to … have the opportunity to pursue their outdoor passions.”
Thanks to the formation of the USA, Myers said those members now have an organization that not only advances their outdoor interests, but helps to secure the good union jobs that provide the opportunity to explore those interests.
“For the first time in the history of the labor movement these union sportsmen and women have an outdoor home,” Myers said. “The USA is truly a union of the outdoors.”
More information is available at unionsportsmen.org.