Although summer officially ends this year on September 23, Labor Day traditionally marks the unofficial end to summer. Vacations are over and the kids are going back to school. Labor Day is more than just part of another three day weekend however. It is a day when we celebrate the labor movement.
The labor movement in the United States grew out of the need to protect the common interest of workers. For those in the industrial sector, organized labor unions fought for better wages, reasonable work hours and safer working conditions. The labor movement led efforts to stop child labor, give health benefits and provide aid to workers who were injured or retired.
Believe it or not the earliest recorded labor strike occurred in 1768 when tailors from New York protested a reduction in their wages. Today, some 250 years later, labor continues to fight for the working people. We are blessed to be the beneficiaries of what the labor movement has accomplished over the last 250 years but the fight for the rights of the men and women of labor continues. Big business (led by the Koch brothers) and some Government leaders are doing all that they can to strip away what labor has accomplished through their blood, sweat, and tears. The anti- labor movement is very strong and growing.
Currently, for example, there are 27 Right to Work (anti-union) states in the United States. Another recent blow to labor was the Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court Decision which abolished agency shop fees. Lastly, in New York State we have a legislature trying to push a single payer health care system that will do away with Health Insurance Plans provided for by the Employer, eliminating a benefit that was collectively bargained for. These are just a few examples of the anti-labor sentiment that can be heard and seen throughout our country.
This Labor Day I urge all of our members to take a moment to think about the men and women who fought the good fight for labor over the last 250 years. I also ask you to consider getting more involved with your union so that we can continue to fight the good fight with our brothers and sisters of labor nationwide and around the state. It was that solidarity that led to the defeat of the Constitutional Convention movement a couple of years ago. Do not be apathetic, become more informed, come to membership meetings, come to our dinner dance, know what your benefits are and learn more about your union. Together we are UNION STRONG.
On behalf of the Executive Board I wish all of you a Happy and Safe Labor Day.