Monday, September 04, 2006

From the folks who brought you the weekend

Happy Labor Day - I hope you're enjoying this day away from labor, and not one of those whose jobs require them to work on holidays. I hope you'll also take a moment to think about what it means to have one day each year to take time off to honor the labor movement in this country.

I can hear many of you whining now, claiming you never benefited any from the labor movement. You've done it all yourselves, every raise, every benefit, every day off - it's what you've earned all on your own. Yeah, right.

Labor unions have fallen upon difficult times, with dropping membership and fewer successes. But they've also been instrumental in making the workplace safer and more humane. The 40-hour work week, the end of child labor, health care benefits - these (and much more) were all brought about as a result of organized labor.

Yes, we're a nation that prides itself on us all being "rugged individuals." But, the fact is, much of our history flies in the face of that oft-repeated myth. Collective action and working in community with each other is what has always made us strong, and is responsible for our greatest achievements.

It is only the achievements we have accomplished by sticking together and supporting each other that have allowed us the freedom to be "rugged individuals" in the rest of our lives.

As a self-employed writer/consultant, I am not in any unions. In the past, I have been a member of AFSCME, and a member (and one-time president) of SHRA-EA. My wife has just finished up three years as the CTA rep for her school. We know first-hand that organized labor is not always as organized as we might like. We know the frustrations of paying dues and dealing with the national union bureaucracy. And we know what we've achieved through collective bargaining when we've brought new contracts to our co-workers. It's all worth it.

Have a toast to labor!

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