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Union Veteran Council

Lance Coles
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Following the 2020 election cycle, the need to Engage, Educate, and Mobilize our veteran community is greater than ever. In fact, the success the UVC has had over the past 6 years is a direct result of the work of our affiliates and, more importantly, our rank file union veteran volunteers and advocates have driven. By harnessing the voice of working veterans, the UVC has created a track record of success on both the national and local level, routinely hitting well above our weight. 


Analysis in this article showed that Trump dropped a net 14 points from his 61 to 47 percent victory with veteran households in 2016. These results reinforce the impact the UVC can have on targeted elections. In 2022 and 2024, it will be critical for us to help union-endorsed candidates remain in office. Union veterans will be key to that.

Throughout history, veterans have left military service and joined the workforce and unions. Veterans are in every corner of the labor movement, from job sites to bargaining tables -- from first-year apprentices to international union presidents. The more than one million veterans in the labor movement play a critical role in our collective fight for justice. 

As the veterans’ advocacy organization for the American labor movement and a voice for working-class veterans, our mission is toengage, educate, and mobilize veteran union members and our families to harness our collective voices to bring about change -- legislatively, politically, and at the bargaining table.

For the first time, to celebrate Veterans Day, the Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO will be launching “Operation Union Veterans Day.''

We will use this campaign to tell the story of the role veterans and military families play in the American labor movement throughout the month of November. Not only will we tell the union veterans’ story, but we’ll also use this as an engagement and mobilization effort to launch a Union Veterans Council membership drive. We’re also planning, for the first time ever, to catalog the Veterans Day activities that many unions and labor bodies already host. 

Here are the four actions that we are asking all state federations, central bodies, and affiliates to take to support your veterans and the UVC beginning on Veterans Day:  

  • Create and support events in your area during the month of November to mobilize union veterans  

  • Invite all union veterans to join the AFL-CIOs virtual veterans round table on Veterans Day, 11/11 

  • Support the UVC’s membership drive throughout the month of November — sharing content on social media and to your email list

  • Highlight the stories of your union’s veterans through video testimonials and social media  

Operation Union Veterans Day — How you can get involved:

Beginning on Veterans Day, we hope you will find and create opportunities to celebrate veterans, engage you members who are veterans, and mobilize to help pass legislation that will benefit all veterans. Here are four actions you can take starting on Veterans Day to help veterans in your community. 

  1. Create or support events in your area beginning on Veterans Day and throughout the entire month of November to mobilize union veterans 

(Use this Forum HERE to report and highlight your local events and actions)


  • Host a virtual town hall and or round table.

    • These events are a great and easy way to highlight stories of your union veterans. This is also a great way to involve members of your community and elected officials.

  • Mobilize local union veterans to meet with Congressional staff or have a call with D.C. staff for your members of Congress.

  • Build onto existing events or plans - if you are already planning a Veterans Day event, BBQ, etc. for membership, please also share the below resources and how members can join the UVC.

    • We would love to highlight any activities your unions or organizations are doing around veterans day you can share these events through social media or cataloging them here.

  1. Highlight the stories of your union’s veterans through video testimonials and social media 

Video Testimonials


The Union Veterans Council is collecting video testimonials from a diverse group of veterans from across the country. We are looking for videos of union veterans discussing Veterans Day and what being a union member has done for them, as well as non-union veterans discussing why more Americans should have the ability to join a union. 


If you have the ability to create your own videos in-house that is a great option or you can use the UVCs capsule campaign tool, details are below. 

Here’s how it works.

  1. Identify a veteran willing to talk about Veterans Day and what their union or the union of someone in their life means to them

  2. Veteran logs on to UVC’s video capture tool,, and clicks “Record a Video”,  which will upload directly to UVC.

  3. Veterans create a video (30-55 seconds) in which they identify themselves, where they’re from, and explain what Veterans Day and the labor movement means to them.

Social Media Highlights 

Simply sharing a picture and a few lines highlighting local union veterans is a great way to start to bring awareness to other union veterans. 

We have also created a folder of template Graphics that can be accessed HERE


  1. Support the UVC’s membership drive through the month of November 

We need to continue to identify veterans in your union. This section is focused on launching a membership drive that affects our ability to engage, educate, and mobilize more union veterans. 

It provides you with the tools and resources to identify your veteran members and provide them with vital information about our program, issues, and ways to be more involved in the labor movement. 


The first and most important piece of engagement is getting members signed up. One of the critical steps is to identify local union veterans in your membership ranks; by doing this, you will have a bigger pool to contact and recruit.

If you know local members of your organization who would be interested in joining UVC, reach out to them and send our information.


Email is one of the most effective tools in our belt. We recommend asking your email list to self-identify as a union veteran. Emails fromlocal bodiesand affiliates are the best way to get people signed up en masse. Check our Email Template Database for emails that you can send to your list and your local partners to get the word out, as well as emails to provide to your local partners and affiliates for their use.

After an initial email, you can also attach UVC sign-up links to other emails you send out to keep UVC fresh in your members’ minds. If you have a regular newsletter, consider including a line on signing up for UVC. You can also add a P.S. to other emails that include the link. See an example here.


For many union members, social media is the best way to deliver information. Many of these members are veterans—posting UVC information and sign-up links is one more way to identify veteran members. Up to 63% of Facebook and Twitter users get their news primarily from these platforms.

We’ve provided sample content to get out pro-veterans messages on your social media. We hope you can use these to amplify UVC’s cause. Along with these posts, link to our social media and add sign-uplinks to help bring your followers into the fold.

Sample Facebook post

Attention Veterans!!!

Have you become an official Union Veterans Council, AFL CIO member? It is free and only takes a minute of your time. SIGN-UP HERE

Always take the opportunity to sign up new members. Our community is diverse - some members will be more inclined to join when shown a reason why, and that motivating reason or issue won’t be the same for everyone. As you advocate on different issues that connect to UVC’s work, include a sign-up ask.

Alternative Sign up methods 

  • Paper Sign up - The UVC can provide you with sign-up cards that can be mailed as an individual card, or together in a bulk envelope. You can also print your own using the Template of our Tear-off card.  

  • Google Drive Sign-up - You can share a google sign-up form that can be uploaded into our email system and app, this is great for group events or as a one-on-one organizing tool that can be filled out on your phone or laptop. Online Google Sign-In/Sign-up Form 

  • Action Builder App - We have repurposed the app into an organizational membership engagement and internal organizing tool.  We now have the ability to support affiliate groups and state and local Union Veterans Chapters.

  • List Upload - If you have an existing veterans list and want to upload it directly, this can be done. We advise against this idea for our email list, but we suggest an upload into our ActionBuilder App into a specialized campaign assigned to your organization.

  1. Invite all union veterans to join the AFL-CIO veterans virtual round table on Veterans Day 

The UVC will be hosting a roundtable on Veterans Day RSVP HERE. This event will be designed to celebrate veterans and bring them together to learn more about the UVC and the overall Labor movement’s efforts to support veterans.

Please ask your members who are veterans to join. 

Additional Background for messaging to veterans in your union:

Below is some additional information to help you email and speak to the veterans in your union. Very often you hear about the very worst parts of the veteran community. This is why we see union members and labor organizations throughout the country support many efforts to help this part of our community, but there is another story.  

When you provide veterans and military families opportunity and stability, we thrive and this is the story of millions of veterans who found their pathway to the American dream via a union card.  

  • Union veterans earn on average $12,000 more per year compared to non-union veterans 

Union Veterans Council (UVC) is mobilizing working-class veterans and their families to take back our country and reclaim the basic American values of justice, equality, and opportunity. To be successful in this historic struggle, UVC will provide AFL-CIO state federations, central labor councils, area labor federations, and progressive allies the guidance, resources, and support to help us grow our movement. 


On Veterans Day we all join together to remember and celebrate union veterans and their families for their past and current service to our country. 

  • Let's lift up and share their stories this month but also make sure to listen to what they need – jobs, training, a fully funded VA and other services, and the right to join a union. 

  • One of the biggest things we can do to help veterans is to give them the resources and tools to join together to advocate for themselves and all workers. Union veterans and their families can join the UVC to make it happen.  

Talking Points: A Union Gives a Veteran a Better Life


Military Families are Union Families


Veterans and military families have a long history of being a part of unions, and many more veterans will join unions if they are given the opportunity.


  • Over one million veteran workers are union members.


  • Unions offer veterans the same sense of community that the military does.


  • Veterans are one third more likely to join a union than nonveterans.


  • Due to anti-union laws many veterans have not even had the opportunity to join a union.


  • Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows nearly 60 million people (almost half of nonunion workers) would vote to join a union today if given the opportunity.


  • Passing the PRO Act will create a pathway for even more veterans to become union veterans and allow them to live the American dream they served to defend


Veterans Need Unions 


Transitioning from military service is difficult, and unions help veterans navigate that difficult transition and set themselves up for success long-term with good careers. 


  • Financial instability is one of the greatest challenges facing veterans and transitioning service members. Fair wages and stable jobs will help us end the epidemic of veteran suicide.


  • Despite our obligation to make sure our veterans are financially stable, 31% of all working veterans make less than $31k per year.


  • 39% of veterans working in the construction industry make less than $20 an hour, many with no to few benefits.


  • 1 out of every 5 working veterans would benefit from raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024.


  • Unions are one of the best paths to achieving higher wages. When union membership is greater, veterans and military families do better.


  • Between 1948 and 1973, when New Deal era laws expanded and enforced collective bargaining, hourly wages rose by more than 90%. Millions of WWII GI’s returned home and used a union job to help drive the creation of the middle class following the war. But over the next 40 years—from 1973 to 2013—hourly wages rose by just over 9% while productivity increased 74%.


  • In the military, we all serve on equal footing, regardless of our backgrounds, race, gender, or sexual orientation or identity. But when we return, veterans of color, female veterans, and LGBTQ veterans face unique challenges.


  • Just like the military, unions create an equal playing field for veteran workers, no matter your gender, sexual orientation or identity, or the color of your skin. 


  • Collective bargaining increases protections for women, people of color, immigrants and the LGBTQ community in areas where our laws are still falling short. 


  • A union contract is the single best tool we have to close racial and gender wage gaps in the veteran workforce, and to ensure dignity and due process for workers, regardless of where we were born, who we are, or what industry we work in.


  • Of the 20 million veterans in the U.S., only 6.1 million veterans receive their healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Unions help veterans access quality, affordable healthcare through their employers and/or their unions.



Union Veteran Council web page