On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a law making the first Monday in September of each year a national holiday. Labor Day 2019 was the 125th anniversary.
Labor Day is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It is a tribute to the contributions our nation’s workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
That all sounds very textbook now, doesn’t it? The fact remains after so many years that unions fought to have a national holiday for all workers, union and non-union, just as unions today fight for the rights of workers, union and non-union.
Labor Day is much more than a holiday that gives most working people a day off. While it is one day a year to celebrate the accomplishments made by those who toil daily, it is also a day to remember those who came before us and to remember those who gave their lives so that ours could be better. I will not list all of those noted leaders or events, as you can easily research our rich labor movement history on your own.
If you do so earnestly, you will find that unions have fought for all workers since our inception and continue to do so today, all while being demonized and downplayed every day by those who have it all and want even more.
While current statistics show that union approval ratings are over 60 percent across the nation, union density is in the teens. Workers in this country are afraid to organize for fear of losing their jobs even though it is and has been illegal for businesses to fire employees for attempts to organize.
The current Republican administration in the state of Iowa is extremely anti worker, anti-union and the same can be said for the administration in the White House. The National Labor Relations Board has reversed many rulings that benefit working people and without doubt will continue to do so, the old “while you sleep” thing. I say this because most working people do not know that any of this is going on. This leaves unions to battle bad policy and fight for all working people as we have done forever.
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Working people coming together to accomplish collectively what they cannot accomplish on their own is not a bad thing, folks. Unions are not the enemy regardless of what some TV networks state.
Having a voice in the workplace, the right to collectively bargain and the right to due process is not a bad thing. Workers who currently do not have these things should seriously consider organizing. If union density was 60 percent in this country, working people would truly have control of this nation and it would become very hard for politicians regardless of party affiliation to support anti-worker legislation.
Make America union again. The greatness will follow.
Rick Moyle is executive director of the Hawkeye Area Labor Council AFL-CIO.