Union President’s Reminder: What Labor Day Is All About

Whether you are in favor of unions or not, unions have had a substantial impact on the compensation and work lives of both unionized and non-unionized workers. Unions make life better for people everywhere. Even if you are not in a union, you enjoy things that have become the norm because unions have fought for those rights. Unions are there to raise everyone up and help put fairness in the workplace. People know when they are not being treated fairly, and equate unions with fairness.

The impact of unions on total non-union wages is almost as large as the impact on total union wages. Strong unions set a pay standard that non-union employers follow. For example, a high school graduate whose workplace is not unionized, but whose industry is twenty-five percent unionized, is paid five percent more than similar workers in less unionized industries. (Source: Economic Policy Institute)

In addition, unions created many of the workplace benefits many non-union employees take for granted including the 40-hour workweek, overtime pay, paid leave, holidays off (including Labor Day), unemployment benefits, and health insurance for full-time employees. Unions usually improve benefits more than wages.

Unions are also instrumental in fighting for an employee’s right to safety in the workplace. Nearly everyone agrees that safety regulations are a positive thing for all parties, but it should be remembered that it was largely unions that put them there. A low rate of injury and absenteeism is a good thing for both employees and management, contributing to high employee morale and productivity. Unions help to maintain safety standards that decrease injuries on the job.

So once again, as you prepare for your Labor Day BBQ, hug a union thug for fighting for your right to have this time with family and friends.

— Clifford Park, San Leandro, President, AFGE Local 1216, SF

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