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Our work connects us all

You probably didn’t give it much thought when you flipped your light switch this morning. But when you turned on your light, you were depending on miners, railroad workers and electricians. You might have stumbled into your kitchen to make a pot of coffee next, and depended on farm workers, truckers and production employees all before you really opened your eyes.

We are connected through work and we all rely on one another.

On this Labor Day I want to encourage all Hoosiers to take a moment to thank some of the women and men who allow you to do your work, live your life and keep America going.

After all, Labor Day is for them – and for you.

Work connects us all.

That’s why this nation prospers when the people who are the pulse of this great nation are recognized, respected and rewarded every day. Workers are the profit creators for our society. And we do best when we treat workers with respect and honor their basic workplace rights.

The route to real prosperity for all is building a high-wage economy with full employment, economic security and a restored democracy. Investments at home create a cycle of good jobs, fair wages, consumer-driven growth, thriving businesses and communities, a promising future for our children and better lives for people around the world.

Never in our lifetimes has there been a more stark contrast between two competing visions of our country’s future – between a ladder to the middle class for all and a secret staircase to wealth for Wall Street and the richest 1 percent.

You see, some folks want to pull away the ladder now that they’re at the top. In their vision of America, you reward those who game the system, no matter the consequences for the rest of us. You preserve and even increase tax cuts for sending good middle-class jobs overseas. You extend the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent and force the middle class to pick up the tab by ending Medicare as we know it, raising the age for Social Security, and undermine our future with cuts to education, infrastructure, public safety, and other basic services for American families. You tell our kids to expect less from America – and pursue policies like falsely labeled “right to work” laws or attacks on the rights of workers to negotiate for a better life – that only accelerate a vicious downward spiral for our communities.

Sadly, the deluge of money has made too many politicians more interested in helping wealthy CEOs who fund their campaigns than in helping the rest of us.

But work connects us all. And we can use our strength in numbers, come together and make our voices heard in this election and beyond. We can insist that working people get the dignity and respect they earn every day. We can demand for our kids the hope for a brighter future we had at their age. And, we can rebuild the middle class by creating a sustainable economy that works for everyone.

In the months and years ahead working people –union members and nonunion workers – must stand together and ensure America chooses the right path. We must talk to one another. We must recognize that we are all connected. And we must continue to work each day to build the America our kids and grandkids deserve. It’s on us.

Nothing is more American than creating an economy that works for all.

Nancy Guyott is the president of the Indiana State AFL-CIO. She wrote this for Indiana newspapers.