Labor Day was created because workers were spending too much time on the job. In the 1830s, most Americans worked 70 hours a week or more. Workers fought for a shorter work day – an 8-hour day – and a shorter work week. It has been a long and winding road for workers, but we have clearly won. Today, workers clock in about 40 hours a week with most people working five days a week.
Labor Day celebrates the social and economic achievements of us working people. It also recognizes the labor movement’s contributions to the prosperity of our country. Eight-hour days, holiday weekends, sick leave, workers compensation, and paid parental leave are just some of the examples of how the labor movement has made a difference in the lives of all Americans.
It’s also a reminder that when workers join together, we have the power to effect change. As a union member, we have the power to achieve even more, and we need to achieve more. For union members, every day is Labor Day.
Here are 5 simple things you can do to protect your ability to make a good living and support your family
1. Vote your interests in 2020
The interests include your paycheck, your benefits and retirement, your right to form and join a union, your job security, and your rights at work.
Make sure you are registered to vote. Make sure you know how to vote absentee by mail and in person with possible fewer locations.
2. Stay connected and active within your union
You are the union. So, our union is as strong as you want it to be. Join with your union family and participate in your local activities. Show up for all the work your local does, whether it’s legislative work, contract negotiations, or recruiting new members.
3. Ask others to get involved
If your coworkers are not union members, ask them to join. Explain to them that if we join together, we can make a difference. We are more powerful fighting together than fighting alone.
If you are a local officer, ask members to get involved and let the rank and file decide their priorities. Locals need to use member support for every single action, whether it is bargaining, representation, or organizing.
4. Build a relationship with your members of Congress as a voter, worker, and community member.
Your members of Congress need to hear from you constantly. We need members of Congress to be leaders to bring about change that will move labor forward and improve our work life.
5. Talk about your union
We are all workers, and union members should talk widely about the work they do with their union to help those they know off the job that change and better conditions are possible.