For many of us in the labor movement, Labor Day is a time to have picnics and rallies and be with the family. It is also a time to reflect on the sacrifices of those U.S. workers who came before us, especially those who lost their lives in the fight for justice in the workplace.
In 1893, New York City workers took an unpaid day off to march around Union Square in support of a National Labor Day. Then-President Grover Cleveland signed legislation making the first Monday in September Labor Day.
Labor unions are made up of working people working together to solve problems, build stronger workplaces and give working families a real voice. Unions give workers a voice on the job about safety, negotiate there own pay and benefits (such as health care and pensions), and the best way to get the work done. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for 2010, union workers earned 28 percent more each week than non-union workers. The union wage benefit is even greater for minorities and women.
Some 84 percent of union workers have health care benefits compared to 64 percent of non-union workers. In addition, 78 percent of union workers have a defined benefit pension, compared to 19 percent of non-union workers.
Unions give working people a voice in government. They represent working families before lawmakers and make sure politicians never forget that working families voted them into office.
The record is 100 percent crystal clear that labor unions are great for America. The proof is in the statistics. So join a Union. Thank God for labor unions, because they help bring lower-wage families into the middle class. Let us never forget that the labor movement (unions) brought us Labor Day.
Executive officer, Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics, and Allied Workers International Union
Vice President, Indiana State AFL-CIO