Unions' work, dedication pay off for laborers
This Labor Day means more to me than just a barbecue. I've been in the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union for 12 years. I got my first job in a union shop at Perfection Bakery in Fort Wayne, and now I represent my brothers and sisters of the union to negotiate a fair rate of return for their hard work.
It was clear to me from the beginning the value of membership. It meant more than better wages; it was health care, paid time off and a better life for my family.
As you and your family are enjoying your three-day weekend and your barbecues, please consider that without unions, workers have no say in their work lives and are forced to take what their employer believes they're worth. If you want equal rights on the job, join a union. A union contract is legally binding and protects you from being unduly fired and can help you secure the American dream you were promised.
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.
Gains of the past make for a brighter future
As a member of the United Steelworkers for 26 years, Labor Day has always been a time of reflection for me. The labor movement is a voice for all working people, and generally this voice is recognized by many of us to be of the utmost importance in organized labor. We pride ourselves on this voice, whether it is an individual voice or a collective voice, whether it is expressed by tongue or pen, in our workplaces, community and country.
While our voice is our greatest advantage and asset, it was not simply given to us. Many of our sisters and brothers fought and struggled for this voice, and we should remember that on Labor Day.
Not only is this voice still strong in northeast Indiana, so are the actions that gave us this voice. Local unions in our community, from many international unions, are not only joining in each other's fights and struggles in representing all working people; they are joining together with many community partners and organizations to make our community better for everyone. While I remember the sacrifices of those who have come before us, I am also happy to be part of the local labor movement in the present, while looking to the future.
Jeffrey J. Gleason
Staff representative, United Steelworkers
Grateful for protections UAW continues to provide
As a proud third-generation member of the United Auto Workers, I'm grateful for my job every day, but especially on Labor Day. Because of the benefits and wages that are negotiated by my union, my husband and I were able to welcome two foster children into our home and provide them with the love and security they deserve.
Regretfully, I worry that job security will soon be a thing of the past. My husband was also a proud union member until 2014, when the Republican supermajority on the Fort Wayne City Council took those protections away and terminated his union and, in turn, his right to have a voice in the workplace. Without his union, we live in fear that at any moment he could be terminated without cause.
My union brothers and sisters one state over, in Lordstown, Ohio will find it difficult to celebrate Labor Day this year because their plant was closed and their jobs have been eliminated. I can't help but wonder if my auto plant will be next. It's hard to believe that asking for a job with a good wage, safe working conditions and decent health care is too much to ask, while CEOs are making obscene incomes at 271 times that of the average worker.
This Labor Day I'm going to hug my kids and thank my union because I know that with the stroke of a pen my rights and my job could be taken away next.