By: Bruce W. Both
Each Labor Day we celebrate the many accomplishments that organized labor has helped to create for all American workers. The five day work week, the 8-hour work day, child labor laws and holiday pay are just a few that come to mind. Looking forward, the fight for better rights for hardworking men and women will never end, and there is still much work to do.
As the gap between the wealthy few and the rest of America continues to grow, more must be done to address the millions of Americans who are struggling to provide for their families in part-time, low-wage jobs.
Here in New York too many workers are struggling to stay afloat in a fragile economy. Men and women alike are forced to take on two, three and sometimes four jobs to support their families. New York likes to flaunt itself as a progressive capital, yet the local laws protecting workers and wages don’t stack up against other states like Vermont, Washington and Rhode Island. This should be seen as unacceptable when you consider how expensive it is to make ends meet while living in New York.
The national opinion on these issues is shifting in favor of workers. The latest results from the 2015 installment of Gallup’s annual Work and Education survey show that Americans’ approval of labor unions has jumped five percentage points to 58% over the past year, and is now at its highest point since 2008, when 59% approved. Consistent with the recent increase in approval of unions, the percentage of Americans saying they would like labor unions to have more influence in the country has also been rising, and now stands at 37%, up from 25% in 2009. Meanwhile, the percentage wanting unions to have less influence has declined from 42% to 35%.
America wants better treatment, better jobs and higher wages for working men and women, so why can’t they get it? As union members, we all have what every worker in our country should want: respect, a voice at work, better benefits, wages, representation and protection from greedy corporations.
Congressional Republicans and their corporate backers have stuck to the same old, tired argument that raising wages, and reforming the National Labor Laws will be bad for businesses. Attacking these ideals and hard working men and women who are fighting to better their lives to support their families, not only divide our country but our communities as well. We know that by joining together, we can make both working conditions and companies better.
That’s what Labor Day is about.
We all want the same thing, better jobs, better communities, and a better country. We can only achieve them by working together, not by divisive attacks that further separate us further.
UFCW Local 1500 salutes all of our union employers for employing and partnering with the hard working men and women who make their stores and their companies better. Please remember these Union members who help you every single day of the year while you’re enjoying your Labor Day. Happy Labor Day!