Labor Day is a time for reflection; a day to remember that working people tell the true story of America. They are the mirror that shows how we live and whether we live up to our founding ideals. It is my profound hope that a revitalized labor movement will once again empower working people to drive their own destinies and create a more equally prosperous America.
The American labor movement is responsible for many things we take for granted—the weekend, the 40-hour work week and anti-child labor laws to name a few. Today, our movement is reinvigorated and working for other profoundly important things: securing wages and benefits that working families deserve, the continued existence of the middle class, and respect and dignity for all working people. I’m proud that the Teamsters Union is at the forefront of this effort.
But make no mistake, working families are being attacked and scapegoated like never before. Public employees are being blamed for bad economies. Pensions and health care benefits are demonized as excessive perks of the past while the richest among us enjoy tax rates that are some of the lowest in our nation’s history.
Corporate-backed politicians have mounted the most vicious anti-union attacks in memory. Government workers are being stripped of their collective bargaining rights. Right-to-work-for-less bills to destroy unions are becoming law in many states. And if Donald Trump is elected president, he has promised a federal right-to-work law.
The labor movement, and the Teamsters Union in particular, is alive and well and is still forcing change. Labor is behind the movement to stop bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—something the Teamsters Union has been warning against for years. Labor is also behind the effort to protect the retirement security of Americans who worked hard their entire lives in order to retire comfortably. Labor is behind the push to improve our nation’s infrastructure.
An elite few may have the money, but we have the boots on the ground. I urge you to fight back by getting involved. You can make a difference by talking to workers in organizing drives; attending rallies; urging politicians to support issues such as fair trade; voting for pro-labor candidates; and by becoming a member of DRIVE, our powerful political action committee. Be proud of our legacy, and tell others what it means to be in a union—solidarity, democracy and respect.
For far too many people, Labor Day is seen simply as a day of rest. On this Labor Day, I ask all members to become informed and engaged on the issues that affect us.