“The labor movement is people. Our unions have brought millions of men and women together, made them members one of another, and given them common tools for common goals. Their goals are goals for all America – and their enemies are the enemies for progress. The two cannot be separated.” President John F. Kennedy
Today is our day and we need to bask in our proud history. Every year people across our great nation stop and look back to what labor has done.
One of America’s greatest resources is its people. And when we work together and speak with one voice we can accomplish great things.
“It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.” President Barack Obama
Even those who oppose unions now have trouble denying the fact that labor built the middle class. Together we fought for some of the basics that all workers are utilizing today like weekends, workplace safety, and overtime. These are only a few of the hundreds of things that labor unions fought for on behalf of all workers.
Labor unions came out of great economic struggles — much like the situation we are currently pushing through. Vast income inequality and high unemployment. In the early days of the Industrial Age, mill owners treated workers like slaves, forcing workers to stay on the jobs for 14-16 hours a day while the owners collected enormous profits. This prompted workers to think about their own safety and prosperity.
This vast income inequality solidified workers to stand up and fight back. Thomas Donahue (AFL-CIO Treasurer 1979-1995) summed it up perfectly when he said, “The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor.”
This is truer today than in the years after the Great Depression. Workers are living in poverty while corporations are raking in untold billions. Right now, CEOs are making 185 times the amount of the average worker. This has lead to countless protests and organized efforts for a living wage.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
As we celebrate this Labor Day, let us reflect on where we have come from. Look back at all the great things we have accomplished together. Then look at all we need to do. America is still the greatest nation in the world — yet we can be even greater.
We need to band together and fight back against the corporate machine that demonizes workers. They want to take us back to the days when workers had no rights and no voice. That is just unacceptable. If we do not stand together like our brothers and sisters of the past have taught us, we will never be able to overcome the grasp of corporate greed.