As we celebrate this Labor Day, we do so in a time when the labor movement is under unprecedented levels of attack. Unions and their members are vilified by the uninformed and biased as overworked, underpaid, and the cause of the decline in our economy.
One of our blog readers, Roxanne McAnn, forwarded us an article she wrote for the Business Insurance Quotes website. She lists the “10 Pivotal Moments in the U.S. Labor Movement”. The entire article is available at http://www.businessinsurance.org/10-pivotal-moments-in-the-u-s-labor-movement
Her list is:
1. National Labor Union forms, 1866
2. Knights of Labor forms, 1869
3. Great Railroad Strike, 1877
4. American Federation of Labor forms, 1886
5. Haymarket Riot, 1886
6. Homestead Strike, 1892
7. Pullman Strike, 1894
8. Walsh-Healey Act passes, 1936
9. Taft-Hartley Act passes, 1947
10. AFL and CIO merger, 1955
Today, we stand at another pivotal moment. There are a lot of articles written about whether unions are still relevant or necessary. Most of these are written by authors whose anti-union bias is evidenced by their slanted views.
The need for unions is evident in the calls to take away benefits, pay, and job protections from workers, both organized and not. A major party presidential candidate has called for the removal of the minimum wage, even as the gap between executive and worker pay grows. We are told the public servants that protect our communities and teach our children are cause of our problems and need to be punished. We read that those with seniority in their jobs have suddenly become incompetent and need to be replaced by those who have no experience (and are less expensive).
Every few weeks, we get calls from people who feel they have been wronged by their employer. (I’m not sure why they call us, but they do.) After we tell them we cannot help them, we ask the question, “Do you belong to a union?” Invariably, they do not, but are looking for the kind of help a union provides its members. Instead, they have to go it alone.
Enjoy your Labor Day, and remember, without labor, you wouldn’t have the holiday.