Monday, September 06, 2010

Labor Day 2010

Happy Labor Day--the one day of the year set aside to honor America's workers.

More than 70 years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "If I were a worker in a factory, the first thing I would do would be to join a union."

At the AFL-CIO's August Executive Council meeting, President Barack Obama referenced FDR's statement and took it further:

I think that's true for workers generally. I think if I was a coal miner, I'd want a union representing me to make sure that I was safe and you did not have some of the tragedies that we've been seeing in the coal industry. If I was a teacher, I'd want a union to make sure that the teachers' perspective was represented as we think about shaping an education system for our future.

That statement is a Labor Day treasure, and I want you to have the brief video that captures it.
Watch the video. *Click here to play* [

I "did" work in a coal mine--so I know firsthand how right President Obama is. In 1890, the mineworkers who came together in Columbus, Ohio, to form their union were black and white, they spoke more than a dozen native languages. They had dirty, dangerous jobs. Bosses cheated them on paychecks, charged them for the tools they used and placed less value on their lives than on the lives of the mules hauling the coal.

But when they joined together as workers who shared a common fate, they began to build a better life. And when they built a better life for themselves, they helped build a better life for everyone in America. When they sent their children to college, America got a better education.

That's what a union meant 100 years ago, 70 years ago, 30 years ago. And it's what a union means today.

Working people coming together to build a better life. To build a middle class. To build opportunity for the next generation. To foster social and economic justice at work and in our society. To strengthen democracy and spread prosperity throughout America.
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