Some 5,000 female cotton workers in and around Pittsburgh, Pa., strike for a 10-hour day. The next day, male trade unionists become the first male auxiliary when they gather to protect the women from police attacks. The strike ultimately failed – 1845
President Kennedy signs off on a $900 million public-works bill for projects in economically depressed areas – 1962
More than 350,000 members of the United Auto Workers begin what is to become a 69-day strike against General Motors – 1970
Int’l Association of Siderographers merges with Int’l Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers – 1992
More than 43,000 oil workers strike in 20 states, part of the post-war strike wave – 1945
A player lockout by the National Hockey League begins, leading to cancellation of what would have been the league’s 88th season. The lockout, over owner demands that salaries be capped, lasted 310 days – 2004
The Farm Labor Organizing Committee wins a signed contract with the Mount Olive Pickle Co. and growers, ending a 5-year boycott. The agreement marked the first time an American labor union represented guest workers – 2004
(Posters about farmworker boycotts and organizing campaigns are intermingled with other great images in Agitate! Educate! Organize! American Labor Posters Lincoln Cushing and Timothy W. Drescher share their vast knowledge about the rich graphic tradition of labor posters. Here you will find lavish full-color reproductions of more than 250 of the best posters that have emerged from the American labor movement on topics ranging from core issues such as wages and working conditions to discrimination to international solidarity.)
Richard Trumka is elected president of the AFL-CIO at the federation’s convention in Pittsburgh. He had served as the secretary-treasurer under predecessor John Sweeney from 1995 to 2009, and prior to that was president of the United Mine Workers for 13 years – 2009
Seventy-five workers die in explosion at Allegheny Arsenal, Pittsburgh, Pa. – 1862
At a New York convention of the National Labor Congress, Susan B. Anthony calls for the formation of a Working Women’s Association. As a delegate to the Congress, she persuaded the committee on female labor to call for votes for women and equal pay for equal work. But male delegates deleted the reference to the vote – 1868
One hundred thousand Pennsylvania anthracite coal miners go on strike. Their average annual wage is $250. They are paid by the ton, defined by Pennsylvania as 2,400 pounds, but which mine operators have increased to as much as 4,000 pounds – 1900
National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) formed at a convention in Washington, D.C. In 1999 it became part of the Int’l Association of Machinists (IAM) – 1917
Some Depression-era weekly paychecks around the New York area: physician, $55.32; engineer, $40.68; clerk, $22.15; salesman, $25.02; laborer, $20; typist, $15.09 – 1933
Southern employers meeting in Greenville, N.C., ready their big counter-offensive to break the textile labor strikes that have hit the Eastern seaboard. Ultimately they deploy 10,000 national guardsmen and 15,000 deputies, but fail to drive hundreds of thousands of strikers back to work – 1934
(Lyddie: In this book written for young readers, Lyddie Worthen is a 13-year-old farm girl who takes a job in the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, when hard times hit her family. Six days a week from dawn to dusk she and the other girls run weaving looms in the murky dust-and lint-filled factory. Lyddie learns to read—and to handle the menacing overseer.)
A Southern Pacific train loaded with sugar beets strikes a makeshift bus filled with 60 migrant workers near Salinas, Calif., killing 32. The driver said the bus was so crowded he couldn’t see the train coming – 1963
A total of 98 United Mine Workers of America members and a minister occupy the Pittston Coal Company’s Moss 3 preparation plant in Carbon, Va., beginning a year-long strike. Among other issues: management demands for drastic limitations in health and pension benefits for retired and disabled miners and their dependents and beneficiaries – 1989
The Occupy Wall Street movement is launched with an anti-Wall Street march and demonstration that ended up as a 2-month encampment in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. The event led to protests and movements around the world, with their focus on economic inequality, corruption, greed and the influence on government of monied interests. Their slogan: “We are the 99%.” – 2011
The Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) is formally founded at an Ohio convention, during a period of serious corruption in the union. Two years earlier at an IBT convention in Las Vegas, a union reform leader who (unsuccessfully) called for direct election of officers and a limit on officers’ salaries had been beaten by thugs – 1978
Nine strikebreakers are killed in an explosion at Giant (gold) Mine near Yellowknife, in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Miner Roger Warren confessed that he planted the explosives that caused the deaths. He recanted the confession but later confessed once again – 1992
A 20-month illegal lockout of 2,900 Steelworkers members at Kaiser Aluminum plants in three states ends when an arbitrator orders a new contract. Kaiser was forced to fire scabs and fork over tens of millions of dollars in back pay to union members – 1999
One week after the September 11, 2001, attacks, anthrax spores are mailed by an unknown party to several news media offices and two U.S. senators. Five people exposed to the spores died, including two workers at Washington, D.C.’s USPS Brentwood facility: Thomas Morris Jr. and Joseph Curseen, who were to die of their exposure within the month – 2001
Chinese coal miners forced out of Black Diamond, Wash. – 1885
Between 400,000 and 500,000 unionists converge on Washington D.C., for a Solidarity Day march and rally protesting Republican policies – 1981
Musician and labor educator Joe Glazer, often referred to as “Labor’s Troubadour,” died today at age 88. Some of his more acclaimed Source Link
Calls on Major Hedge Fund Owner and FairPoint Investor to Ensure Fair Treatment of Workers
Augusta, ME—On September 3rd, Thomas DiNapoli, Comptroller of the State of New York, wrote to John Angelo, CEO of Angelo, Gordon & Co.—owner of almost 20 percent of FairPoint stock—to express his concern about reports that FairPoint has violated federal law in bargaining with representatives of almost 2,000 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in northern New England.
- DiNapoli is sole Trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF), the nation’s third largest public pension fund, which invests the assets of more than one million members, retirees, and beneficiaries of the retirement system in New York State.
- The CRF is an investor in the AG Super Fund, a hedge fund managed by Angelo, Gordon & Co.
- In addition to owning almost 20 percent of FairPoint stock, Angelo, Gordon & Co. has a designee on FairPoint’s Board of Directors.
According to Mr. DiNapoli’s letter, “In our experience as a long-term institutional investor, where a company has a constructive relationship with its workers and provides sustainable retirement benefits, the company becomes a stronger, more profitable, and more enduring enterprise.”
He went on to say that, “We are, therefore, concerned by publicly reported allegations that FairPoint has not acted in good faith and has violated federal law; specifically, assertions that FairPoint improperly declared an impasse in collective bargaining and unlawfully imposed” the terms of its final contract proposals.
Union leaders welcomed Mr. DiNapoli’s intervention. “Angelo, Gordon is the largest FairPoint stockholder and has tremendous influence over management’s decisions. We hope that Mr. Angelo takes seriously this intervention by Mr. DiNapoli, who represents one of the largest pension funds in the US,” said Peter McLaughlin, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2327 and chair of the unions’ bargaining committee.
The Chairman of FairPoint’s Board of Directors, Edward Horowitz, recently informed an advisor to union leaders that members of the Board have been briefed on the company’s bargaining position and that the Board fully endorses that position.
“It is disappointing to hear that members of FairPoint’s Board of Directors support the company’s attacks on working families across northern New England,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400. “We believe that our members are the reason this company emerged from bankruptcy and has begun to recover after its truly ill-advised purchase of Verizon. We will continue to educate investors like the CRF about this company’s decision to put short-term profits above the long-term interests of its workers, customers, and their communities.”
View the letter here.
Employers give in to the demands of striking miners in McKees Rocks, Pa., agree to improved working conditions, 15-percent hike in wages and elimination of a “pool system” that gave foremen control over each worker’s pay – 1909
Workers give up their Labor Day weekend holidays to keep the munitions factories working to aid in the war effort. Most Labor Day parades are canceled in respect for members of the Armed Services – 1942
United Farm Workers union begins historic national grape boycott and strike, Delano, Calif. – 1965
Some 2,600 Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers begin what is to be a successful 6-day strike for higher pay and against a two-tier wage system – 1997
(In this second edition, (2009), of Why Unions Matter, Michael D. Yates shows why unions still matter. Unions mean better pay, benefits, and working conditions for their members; they force employers to treat employees with dignity and respect; and at their best, they provide a way for workers to make society both more democratic and more egalitarian. Yates uses simple language, clear data, and engaging examples to show why workers need unions, how unions are formed, how they operate, how collective bargaining works, the role of unions in politics, and what unions have done to bring workers together across the divides of race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.)
In convention at Topeka, Kan., delegates create the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen of America. The men who repaired the nation’s rail cars were paid 10 or 15¢ an hour, working 12 hours a day, often seven days a week – 1890
More than a thousand Boston police officers strike after 19 union leaders are fired for organizing activities. Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge announced that none of the strikers would be rehired, mobilized the state police, and recruited an entirely new police force from among unemployed veterans of the Great War (World War I) – 1919
Sixteen striking Filipino sugar workers on the Hawaiian island of Kauai are killed by police; four police died as well. Many of the surviving strikers were jailed, then deported – 1924
United Auto Workers President Leonard Woodcock is named in Pres. Richard Nixon’s “Enemy’s List,” a White House compilation of Americans Nixon regarded as major political opponents. Another dozen union presidents were added later. The existence of the list was revealed during Senate Watergate Committee hearings – 1973
In Pennsylvania, Polish, Lithuanian and Slovak miners are gunned down by the Latimer Mine’s sheriff deputies—19 dead, more than 50 wounded—during a peaceful march from Hazelton to Latimer. Some 3,000 were marching for collective bargaining and civil liberty. The shooters were tried for murder but the jury failed to convict – 1897
Some 75,000 coal miners in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia end a 10-week strike after winning an 8-hour day, semi-monthly pay, and the abolition of overpriced company-owned stores, where they had been forced to shop. (Remember the song, “Sixteen Tons,” by coal miner’s son Merle Travis, in which there’s this line: “I owe my soul to the company store.”) – 1897
More than 3,000 people died when suicide highjackers crashed planes into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. Among the dead in New York were 634 union members, the majority of them New York City firefighters and police on the scene when the towers fell – 2001
Crystal Lee Sutton, the real-life Norma Rae of the movies, dies at age 68. She worked at a J.P. Stevens textile plant in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., when low pay and poor working conditions led her to become a union activist – 2009
Eugene V. Debs, labor leader and socialist, sentenced to 10 years for opposing World War I. While in jail Debs received one million votes for president – 1918
Jobless workers march on grocery stores and seize food in Toledo, Ohio – 1932
National Guardsmen fire on “sullen and rebellious” strikers at the Woonsocket (Rhode Island) Rayon plant, killing one and injuring three others. A correspondent said the crowd of about 2,000 “went completely wild with rage.” Word spread, 6,000 more workers arrived at the scene and the city was put under military rule. The governor declared that “there is a Communist uprising and not a textile strike” in the state – 1934
United Rubber Workers formed in Akron, Ohio – 1935
A total of 49 people are killed, 200 injured, in explosion at the Hercules Powder Company plant in Kenvil, N.J. – 1940
New York City’s Union Square, the site of the first Labor Day in 1882, is officially named a national historic landmark. The square has long been a focal point for working class protest and political expression – 1998
(Inventory of American Labor Landmarks: Planning a fall vacation? This attractive booklet offers a nice selection from the Labor Heritage Foundation’s comprehensive, ongoing inventory of labor landmarks across the country.)
The Post Office Department orders 25,000 railway mail clerks to shoot to kill any bandits attempting to rob the mail – 1926
Eleven AFSCME-represented prison employees, 33 inmates die in four days of rioting at New York State’s Attica Prison and the retaking of the prison. The riot caused the nation to take a closer look at prison conditions, for inmates and their guards alike – 1971
The Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers union calls off an unsuccessful 3-month strike against U. S. Steel Corporation subsidiaries – 1901
Gastonia, N.C., textile mill striker and songwriter Ella May Wiggins, 29, a mother of five, is killed when local vigilantes and thugs force the pickup truck in which she is riding off the road and begin shooting – 1929
A striker is shot by a bog owner (and town-elected official) during a walkout by some 1,500 cranberry pickers, members of the newly-formed Cape Cod Cranberry Pickers Union Local Source Link
You can see her full 5 minute speech just below, but I will give you a couple of highlights.
- Raising the federal minimum wage.
- Protecting workers rights, including attacks against the National Labor Relations Board.
- Protecting collective bargaining rights.
- Fought against federal Right to Work for less legislation.
- Ensuring access to healthcare for all Americans.
- Increasing funding for schools, and community & technical colleges.
- Increasing manufacturing right here at home.
We need more people like Annie in Washington who are working to get things done, not just create more gridlock.
Starving coal miners in the small West Yorkshire, England, pit town of Featherstone – locked out for refusing to accept a wage cut – assemble to stop the movement of coal. As their numbers grew, the military was called in and opened fire, injuring eight people, two of whom died from their wounds.
The Int’l Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers is founded at a meeting in Chicago, the product of two separate brotherhoods created over the previous 13 years – 1893
Congress declares Labor Day a national holiday – 1894
(From the Folks Who Brought You The Weekend is a sweeping, highly readable history of U.S. labor that will be welcomed by anyone interested in learning more about the struggle of American working people to better their lives through collective action.)
Some 30,000 women from 26 trades marched in Chicago’s Labor Day parade – 1903
Walter Reuther is born. He went on to become a founder of the United Auto Workers and was president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations when it merged with the AFL in 1955 – 1907
A 3-week strike in Woonsocket, R.I., part of a national movement to obtain a minimum wage for textile workers, resulted in the deaths of three workers. Ultimately more than 420,000 workers struck nationally – 1934
In Hawaii, some 26,000 sugar workers represented by the Longshoremen’s union begin what is to become a successful 79-day strike that shuts down 33 of the 34 sugar plantations on the islands. The strike brought an end to Hawaii’s paternalistic labor relations and impacted political and social institutions throughout the then-territory – 1946
Int’l Metal Engravers & Marking Device Workers Union changed its name to Int’l Association of Machinists – 1956
Some 20,000 Pennsylvania Railroad shop workers effectively halt operations in 13 states for 12 days. It was the first shutdown in the company’s 114-year history – 1960
Boot Shoe Workers’ Union merged with Retail Clerks Int’l Union – 1977
The Journeymen Barbers, Hairdressers and Cosmetologists’ Int’l Union of America merged with United Food & Commercial Workers – 1980
Glass Bottle Blowers’ Association of the United States & Canada merged with Int’l Brotherhood of Pottery & Allied Workers to become Glass, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers – 1982
Aluminum, Brick & Clay Workers Int’l Union merged with United Glass & Ceramic Workers of North America to form Int’l Union of Aluminum, Brick & Glass Workers – 1982
Brotherhood of Railway, Airline & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees changed name to Transportation-Communications Union – 1987
Coopers Int’l Union of North America merged with Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers Int’l Union – 1992
The federal minimum wage is increased to $5.15 per hour – 1997
The AFL-CIO creates Working America, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization designed to build alliances among non-union working people – 2003
White and Chinese immigrants battle in Rock Springs, Wyo., fueled by racial tensions and the practice of Union Pacific Railroad of hiring lower-paid Chinese over whites. At least 25 Chinese died and 15 more were injured. Rioters burned 75 Chinese homes – 1885
(Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin: Diary of a Chinese Garment Factory Girl on Saipan: We’ve all read newspaper and magazine reports about how miserable life is for garment workers in Third World sweatshops. But we’ve read very little in the workers’ own words, and that’s what this fascinating book offers. In Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin, 25-year-old Chun Yu Wang tells of her life as a Chinese emigrant to Saipan, searching for a better life 2,000 miles from her home.)
Operating railway employees win 8-hour day – 1916
Mineowners bomb West Virginia strikers by plane, using homemade bombs filled with nails and metal fragments. The bombs missed their targets or failed to explode – 1921
President Eisenhower signs legislation expanding Social Security by providing much wider coverage and including 10 million additional Americans, most of them self-employed farmers, with additional benefits – 1954
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was signed by President Ford, regulating and insuring pensions and other benefits, and increasing protections for workers – 1974
(Retire Happy: What To Do NOW to Guarantee A Great Retirement: Everyone who works for a living thinks at some point about retirement, but few actually consider what that really means, other than escaping the daily grind. For sure, most of us worry about having enough money, and this highly readable book provides a lot of information and advice on the subject: how much we’ll need, how to make the most of what we’ve accumulated, how to accumulate more (even as we get close to retirement) and how to make it last. For that advice alone, Retire Happy is worth the price.)
African-American cotton pickers organize and strike in Lee County, Texas, against miserably low wages and other injustices, including a growers’ arrangement with local law enforcement to round up blacks on vagrancy charges, then force them to work off their fines on select plantations. Over the course of September a white mob put down the strike, killing 15 strikers in the process – 1891
Some 300 musicians working in Chicago movie houses strike to protest their impending replacement by talking movies – 1928
Twenty-five workers die, unable to escape a fire at the Imperial Poultry processing plant in Hamlet, N.C. Managers had locked fire doors to prevent the theft of chicken nuggets. The plant had operated for 11 years without a single safety inspection – 1991
Twelve thousand New York tailors strike over sweatshop conditions – 1894
More than 140 attendees at a benefit for a civil rights group are injured in the “Peekskill Riots” in Peekskill, N.Y. The victims were among the 20,000 people leaving a concert featuring African-American Paul Robeson, well-known for his strong pro-unionism, civil rights activism and left-wing affiliations. The departing concert-goers had to drive through a miles-long gauntlet of rock-throwing racists and others chanting “go on back to Russia, you niggers” and “white niggers” – 1949
Int’l Brotherhood of Bookbinders merged with Graphic Arts Int’l Union – 1972
In what many believe was to become the longest strike in U.S. history, 600 Teamster-represented workers walk out at the Diamond Walnut processing plant in Stockton, Calif., after the company refused to restore a 30-percent pay cut they had earlier taken to help out the company. Source Link
I am Diane Sheehan, and I am a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Executive Councilor in District 5.
As a three-time Alderman in Nashua, the largest city in our Executive Council District, I have always been supported by our Firefighters and Teachers Unions, and won each time. I have been proud to receive their support in recognition to the fact that I place a high priority on our employees, our families, and the value that hardworking employees bring to our community.
I am endorsed by the Professional Firefighters of NH and the Teamsters for the Executive Council.
My Dad, who now lives with us, is a retired Teamster. My Mom, now deceased, worked for the US Post Office, which was a blessing when she was struck with terminal breast cancer. She didn’t have to worry about losing her health insurance while she was going through her illness, or going bankrupt to pay for her care.
My husband, Patrick is now retired from the city, but was our AFSCME Local 365 president when I was first elected. My home has been union.
I have a deep understanding of the morale impact of working under an expired contract – or worse, working to contract, or even striking. As a kid, there was strike for my Dad, and I remember the impact on our family, the stress my Dad went through, and the sacrifices that had to be made because there was no paycheck.
Just before I ran for office, I marched with the Nashua teachers in their rally before the near-miss strike.
Once I was elected, one of my first legislative actions was requiring a first contract reading to have all costs outlined. Previously, that was rarely done, and our 30 day window would expire. This obstruction was often stalled the process and triggered renegotiations. That is now a thing of the past. It passed the Board unanimously, and our process has been much smoother as a result.
I have gone to Concord to speak against Right to Work (for less).
Professionally, I have management experience, and I understand that is it better for an organization to work with a contract, and that working together to align goals in a contract drives good outcomes for both parties. As an executive, I negotiated contracts, and as Alderman At-Large in Nashua, I vote on labor contracts.
I have passed 35 pieces of legislation in my first two terms as Alderman. Most passed nearly unanimously. My process includes working with others: finding common ground to make solutions makes it easier to get to “yes.”
Coming from a labor-based family gives me a labor-based perspective. Small issues are slippery slopes to incremental erosions of bigger issues that affect consumers, labor, and families.
Union-busting attempts are easy to recognize when you have grown up with them. Right to Work (for less) is bad for New Hampshire. We have had an excellent ranking of economies in our country, but when you look at the Right to Work states, you see they are the bottom. We’re the model for them to follow, not the other way around.
We need to look out for our middle class, strengthening and expanding it — not lining the pockets of the 1%.
I am the voice that understands and speaks up for the middle class, and I ask for your support on September 9th.
Vote Sheehan for the best chance of standing up to the anti-labor candidate who will seek to dismantle our New Hampshire way.
The WMUR Photographers are asking for our help and support as they go against Hearst Communications, the owners of WMUR.
Dan Ryan, one of the 13 photographers from WMUR explained the situation to the crowd at the NH AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast.
Please show your support, by sharing this post or video with your friends. If you are on twitter, please tweet to @WMUR9 and include @WMURphotog9
Click here to tweet: I support the @WMURphotog9, who deserve the same benefits as everyone else @WMUR http://wp.me/p2yHP6-4jJ #Solidarity @IBEW @NHlabor_News
From a previous NHLN post:
Informational Picket at the Republican Primary Debates
September 2nd through the 5th
At WMUR 100 South Commercial Street, Manchester, NH
SUPPORT IBEW PHOTOGRAPHERS IBEW Local 1228
Since 2005, the WMUR Photographers have been the only Employees in the Station without a pension plan. Despite the fact that they tried to bargain for it repeatedly, Hearst, the parent Company of WMUR has refused to grant it. In fact, another unit of Employees at the Station who are represented by Local 1228 have that pension. Why not these 13 workers?
On Wednesday August 20th IBEW Local 1228 sent notice to WMUR Station Manager Jeff Bartlett that they were terminating the Contract effective August 30. The move was made so that the Photographers can legally launch a public awareness campaign and to engage in concerted actions if needed.
All we are asking for is equal treatment for the Employees that capture and deliver the news, every day. But the Hearst Corporation’s attitude is “we have no appetite for it”. How ridiculous! These Employees risk their physical and mental health daily to report the news including politics, tragedies, heart wrenching events and stories of hope from all over New Hampshire. They work side by side with first responders, shoot the video and edit these stories to inform and educate the citizens of New Hampshire. They generate the revenue Hearst enjoys from this station and deserve equal treatment in retirement benefits.
These Republican primary debates are important to WMUR for continued political revenue and their community image.
We ask you to join us there from 5-7pm each evening and help us send a message to Hearst that corporate greed will not be tolerated in New Hampshire.
follow us on twitter: @wmurphotog9
Governor Hassan as well as many others took time out of their busy schedules to stop and honor Labor at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO’s annual Labor Day Breakfast.
Labor Day is the one day a year when the entire nation stops to look back and praise the achievements of organized labor throughout history. Some, like Governor Hassan, respect and honor the hard work that union members do every day.
“You all make up the highly skilled workforce that makes up the backbone of our economy,” Hassan said.
Unions have always fought for better pay and better working conditions, and that leads to better pay and better working conditions for all Granite Staters.
“I am proud to stand before you as your Governor and say that, with your support, we have been able to come together, and we have begun to reverse the devastating cuts and misguided policies of the last legislature,” said Hassan.
Governor Hassan has also shown she supports working families by pushing for, and signing, legislation like “Paycheck Fairness,” that work to reduce the income inequality between men and women. She also worked to freeze in-state tuition at the University of New Hampshire schools. She proudly announced that next year the Community College System of NH would actually lower tuition by 5%.
There was one piece of legislation that Governor Hassan was eager to see, that never made it to her desk, and that was an increase in the NH Minimum Wage. The House passed a modest increase over two years, and Governor Hassan was very supportive of that legislation. However, when the bill got to the Senate, it was killed by a party line vote. The Republican’s in the Senate, killed that bill and every Granite Stater should know it.
We need to ensure that this November we elect leaders, like Governor Hassan, who will stand up for working families, who will fight for a minimum wage increase, who will fight to keep expanding our healthcare options, and fight against the corporate greed that is infecting our legislature. We need to ensure that we elect leaders who will oppose Right To Work (for less) in all its forms.
Below is the unedited address given by Governor Hassan at the NH AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast.
Video, Greeting from Nation’s Largest Federal Employee Union Highlights Need for Unions Then and Now
WASHINGTON – A new Labor Day video from the American Federation of Government Employees illustrates what unions have done for working people and why they remain relevant today.
The 2-minute video, “Unions: Now More than Ever,” shines a spotlight on all of the rights and protections that exist today in the workplace because of union activism.
The video also explains why collective organizing remains vitally important today, since so many employees work for substandard pay and benefits and don’t have a voice in the workplace.
The video was produced in-house by AFGE’s Communications Department. It is also available on YouTube at http://youtu.be/BA0MJZr6124.
In addition to the video, AFGE National President J. David Cox also has drafted a Labor Day message for the 670,000 federal and D.C. government employees who belong to AFGE. The full text of the message follows.
A Call to Action This Labor Day
As the nation marks another Labor Day, there is little to celebrate for many workers in this country. Millions of Americans work two or more jobs yet remain in poverty, thanks to substandard wages and benefits.
Most federal employees enjoy the benefits of belonging to a union, but most American workers have faced overwhelming employer opposition to exercising those same rights. Corporations have used their financial might and undue influence in Congress to weaken laws that are supposed to protect workers and to wage expensive battles aimed at defeating every attempt by employees to form unions.
As the old saying goes, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.
In the late 1800s, workers who toiled for the Pullman Company outside Chicago suffered countless abuses at the hands of robber baron turned company owner George Pullman. Pullman literally owned the town where his employees lived, and he kept them under his thumb by keeping wages low and rents high. Employees worked 16-hour days yet couldn’t make ends meet. Sound familiar?
Employees banded together and shut down the company, and nearly every other railway workers refused to handle Pullman cars in solidarity with their striking brothers. When the military and U.S. Marshals were called in to break the strike, resulting in the death of 13 strikers and injuries to dozens more, the American people were outraged. The voice of labor was so united that the federal government responded by codifying a day of national honor for American organized labor and its achievements, in an attempt to pacify labor activists.
In the ensuing years, however, the American public has lost sight of why unions still matter, and we as unionists have failed in answering the question.
The facts are on our side. Between 1947 and 1973, the heyday of unionism in this country, productivity increased by 97 percent and workers’ compensation increased by 95 percent. Since then, however, productivity has increased by 80 percent, while employee compensation has risen just 11 percent.
As we mark another Labor Day, let us recall that this day was earned through great collective action. The Pullman Porters serve as but one reminder that American labor has had to—and must continue to—fight for every victory. As the leader of the later Porters’ Strike, A. Philip Randolph said, “Justice is never given; it is exacted and the struggle must be continuous for freedom is never a final fact, but a continuing evolving process to higher and higher levels of human, social, economic, political and religious relationship.”
Labor Day is no gift – so get out there and fight!
J. David Cox Sr.
National President, AFGE