On this Labor Day, I want to take a moment to reflect on all of the reasons we have to be grateful for labor unions. Middle and working-class Americans owe so much to the people who have fought and organized and worked to ensure certain rights for workers that go so far beyond this holiday weekend.
Our most basic comforts as employees – the forty-hour work week, the minimum wage, weekends, a reasonable expectation for safe and accessible working environments – have all come from people working on the front lines to guarantee fairness in the workplace.
But there’s still so much to do. We have to empower employees to have a voice in the negotiation process. At a time where profit is a motivating factor in so many policies at the national and state level, we have to remember and appreciate the leaders actively fighting for people. This also means taking a strong stand on ensuring that all Americans have access to jobs that pay a living wage, quality education that helps provide those jobs, and high-quality healthcare. Our workers deserve the comfort of not having to live paycheck to paycheck or having to decide between paying their rent or paying for medicine.
Supporting unions also means being actively opposed to movements like the misleading “Right to Work” movement that only hurts unions and workers. In fact, states that have enacted “Right to Work” policies have seen lower average wages compared to states with strong union support. Policies like “Right to Work” puts profit above people by weakening unions and affecting the ability of workers to collectively bargain. We know that workers benefit when they have a seat at the table, and when they’re actively involved in the decisions that impact their lives and the lives of their families.
I also believe that investing in unions, and our workers, starts in places like this district (Ohio’s 8th). Communities just like ours paved the way for the labor movement and, together, we can continue to work towards ensuring that we are putting people before everything – before politics, before profit, before big money.
As we celebrate a long weekend, I hope everyone keeps in mind the courage of those who organized and risked their jobs and their livelihoods to achieve what we have today. We honor them by supporting our unions and laborers and policies that benefit all of us.