Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Steven Poster, ASC ICG Local 600 National President, on Labor Day

 By Steven Poster

Next Monday is Labor Day. In between burgers and beers, I hope you'll take a minute to think about what it means to be in a union. 

Here are some of the achievements that the Labor movement has fought for and won:

  • Ending child labor
  • Establishing the legal right of workers to form unions and collectively bargain for wages, benefits and working conditions
  • Winning the 8 hour work day and paid overtime
  • Winning workers' comp benefits for workers injured on the job
  • Securing unemployment insurance for workers who lose their jobs
  • Ensuring a guaranteed minimum wage and in many cities a "livable wage" 
  • Creating workplace safety standards  
  • Winning pensions for many workers
  • Fighting for health insurance for workers and for national health care for all Americans 
  • Securing paid sick leave, vacations, family leave and holidays as standard benefits for most workers
  • Winning passage of the Civil Right Acts and Title VII which outlaws job discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin
  • Winning passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act
  • Winning passage of the Family Medical Leave Act
  • Winning passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act  
This is just a partial list of what we owe to those unionists who came before us. Our lives and our careers would be very different if it wasn't for their courage, activism and solidarity.

But unions are facing a greater threat today than we ever have. Across the country, but especially in California, corporate billionaires are waging a fierce campaign to knock unions out of politics.   

It's more important than ever that, this Labor Day, each of us takes a minute to decide how we can be an active part of protecting our rights as workers. Because, if legislation like California's Proposition 32 passes, it would be impossible for unions to even contact their members to fight for rights like the ones listed above. And if we can't fight to protect them, they will quickly be eroded. 

So please, remember that so many of the workers' rights we take for granted were won through long, hard fights by union activists. Ask yourself what you can do to make sure we remain strong for the future.  
Also, a reminder that elections are coming up. If you are out of town or just don't want to wait in line at the polls, make sure to register for your vote-by-mail ballot soon.

Steven Poster, ASC 
ICG Local 600 National President

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