Unions deserve credit for middle-class lifestyle
This Labor Day marks my 39th year as a union member of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. I got my first job in a union shop in 1980 at the Sealtest Ice Cream Plant in Huntington. At that time minimum wage was $2.90 an hour. Because of the union and our freedom to negotiate a fair rate of return for our work, I started at $6 an hour.
It was clear to me from the beginning the value of union membership. It meant more than better wages; it was health care, paid time off and a better life for my family. On Jan. 1, 2019, after almost four decades of being an active union member, I get to retire with a full pension because of the union.
I'd like to take this opportunity to tell the workers of today that it has been unions that have set the standard of living for the middle class in this country. It has been unions that established the 40-hour work week, paid vacations, overtime pay and retirement benefits. Without unions, workers have no say in their work lives and are forced to take what their employer believes they are worth.
If you're not a union member, become one. If you are already a member, become an active member. A union is not a spectator sport; it takes work and dedication.
Labor movement pushes an inclusive agenda
Every day, but especially on Labor Day, I'm grateful for my job as a staff representative for the United Steelworkers. Standing together in solidarity with my sisters and brothers gives us the freedom to negotiate a fair return on our labor and create a better future for our families. Standing together condemning the lockout of my sisters and brothers from Locals 12003 and 12012 by National Grid on the East Coast and Local 13679 by Bull Moose Tube in Trenton, Georgia; to standing with all working people in Missouri as well as the teachers in West Virginia; the labor movement is still alive.
In our own community we are coming together to fight for the freedoms that protect working families. It's been inspiring to see more and more people take collective action to protect what those before us worked so hard to obtain.
It's important to keep this momentum going – to keep pushing for better wages, retirement security and rights on the job for all – because for too long, working people have been on the losing end of a rigged economy.
This Labor Day, we need to always remember what those before us have fought for; it's also time to continue to build on the incredible achievements of America's working people – everything we've done and everything we will do.
Jeffrey J. Gleason
American Legion got flags lowered
John McCain and I go way back; I was a WAC while he was a POW.
Although I was from an all-Democratic Detroit family, I voted for him in the primaries the first time he ran for president; he won in Michigan. I was at the Pentagon, still recovering from small-cell lung cancer, about the time he had cancer removed from his face. I watched him in action at the Senate during my six years stationed at the Pentagon; he would argue with folks on the Senate floor and eat dinner with the same folks afterwards. Both sides of the aisle were still friends then. I did not always agree with him but recognized him as a true hero and as a man who cared deeply about his family, the U.S., and every American.
Donald Trump was out golfing the first time the White House flag was lowered to half-staff upon McCain's death; the president had the flag immediately raised upon his return to the White House. After strong public condemnation from the American Legion, the president finally signed the proclamation to lower flags to half-staff until sunset on the day of McCain's interment (Sept. 2).
Thank you to the American Legion for forcing the issue in recognition of a real hero. As a life member, I salute you.
Dolores Rose M. Coop