on Labor Day
Today has three different meanings for me.
The first Labor Day is that celebration of all that Organized Labor – our women and men who have come together in unions – have done for every American. From the 40-hour workweek and the eight-hour workday, to the ability to negotiate a living wage, and the opportunity to retire someday without living in poverty.
The quality of life we enjoy in America today was earned, one day at a time, by the men and women of our labor unions. We owe them not just celebration, but thanksgiving.
The second Labor Day is the turning point of our year. From summer to fall, vacation to school days. On this day we must recognize the Turning Point that we have taken in the American workplace. In 1954, 35% of our working folks belonged to unions, today only 11.3% – a two-thirds decline. It is no wonder that our Middle Class is quickly eroding, or that our $7.25 minimum wage is not enough to feed a family of four, and that few of us can afford to retire with so many pension plans disappeared.
This, then, is the third Labor Day – the one that reminds us we still have great and important Labor to perform.
We must labor to increase the minimum wage and the tipping wage. We must labor to put almost ten millions of our fellow citizens back to work. We must labor to renew our manufacturing sector – because we can compete against any country in the world. We must labor to expand and improve Obamacare, and cover the 20 million still without health insurance, to pass comprehensive immigration reform, to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill. And we must labor to develop whole industries around renewable energy and efficient technologies – so that the working women and men of tomorrow have a planet NOT irrevocably changed for the worse by climate change.
How do we begin this Labor Day?
There’s nothing we can’t change this with our passion. With our commitment. With our hard work. Together.
Happy Labor Day! Let’s get to work!
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