Many of you will enjoy a long weekend due to the annual celebration of Labor Day, the first Monday of September.
Labor Day, which was created by the labor movement in 1882, is just one of many work rights and benefits that unions have provided for all working people over time. Unions have done great things for workers that they use and benefit from each day of their lives – things like paid vacation; paid sick leave; maternity leave; eight-hour workdays; weekends; breaks at work (lunch); overtime pay; wage increases; safety standards in the workplace; and so on.
Yet, unions and their members, working families like yours and mine, are currently under attack by a well-orchestrated and well-funded counter movement. The Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity are among those who are doing all in their power to dismantle the workers’ rights we have fought to earn. They want to turn back time and do away with a five-day work week; do away with the minimum wage; do away with overtime pay and paid holidays. They do so by making jumbo contributions to support political candidates, such as presidential candidate, Scott Walker and many others. Once elected, these politicians introduce legislation that has been drafted by the extreme right including the so-called right to work laws, laws to do away with collective bargaining, and many others designed to weaken and eventually reverse all workers’ rights.
We need unions now more than ever before to preserve the many work related rights we now have. The income disparity in our nation is unparalleled. Those who hold all the wealth and power are determined to keep it to themselves by suppressing working families.
If we do not stand up for ourselves, the progress gained by dozens of generations will disappear. Employers will be able to pay workers for maximum hours at below minimum wages. The ability to take a sick day without loss of income will be gone. Workplace accidents that result in loss of wages will be standard. This is not what I wish to see for our great state and nation. I wager that you do not either.
I invite you to stand with us in protecting the rights we have fought hard to obtain for all working people. Talk with your co-workers who are not yet members and explain the benefits of joining our union. Let them know how much is at stake.
Educate yourself about where political candidates stand on labor issues. Just as it was with generations before us, the power to protect the American Dream is in our hands. We just need to use it.
President, SEA/SEIU Local 1984