Since its earliest days the labor movement has sought to improve the quality of work life, create workplace democracy and participate in employer/employee decision-making. The many benefits and protections workers enjoy today never existed until unions won them for working people.
Those benefits include the minimum wage, Social Security, an eight-hour workday and weekends off, overtime pay, safety standards, holiday pay, health and welfare protection, family and medical leave, grievance and arbitration procedures, pension plans and the advancement of civil rights and human rights.
The decline in union membership over several decades -- in large part the result of deliberate, effective, and often illegal tactics by employers -- has a substantial negative impact on the welfare of all American workers. Organized labor not only protects and strengthens the rights of union workers, it is the most powerful voice for fair treatment of all employees and the most effective check on corporate influence in Congress and legislatures across the nation. During the last few years, initiatives designed to lower labor standards, weaken unions, and erode workplace protections have been launched. Such far-reaching and mean-spirited structural changes weaken the bargaining power and political influence of organized labor.
Unions may be with a checkered history and might not be perfect. But as an institution, unions are an essential bulwark for democracy.
This election year let us cast our votes in support of candidates who agree it is unacceptable to treat workers as little more than obstacles in the path to bigger profits.
As we pay tribute to the worker on Labor Day, let us honor labor leaders and union members committed to social justice and equal economic opportunity for all people. With our voices and our votes let us show support of organized labor and necessary measures to strengthen unions