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Labor Day Reminds Us That America Needs Unions

By Larry I. Willis

Labor Day 2018 marks a pivotal moment for working people in this country.

Sustained, coordinated attacks on the rights of working families to have a union voice have led to one of the greatest wealth gaps in our nation’s history. Stagnating wages for workers means that while tens of millions of Americans are forced to work two or three jobs just to get by, the average CEO takes home nearly $14 million per year — approximately 200 times what the average employee earns.

Corporate profits are soaring, but in the last year alone, working families have had to push back against dangerous right-to-work initiatives, illegal employer-led anti-union campaigns, the Supreme Court’s anti-worker Janus decision, and efforts by our own government to sabotage the rights of federal workers.

Yet, in the face of intense, seemingly endless corporate-backed attacks on their rights, working people are refusing to back down. In cities and towns across the country, people who work in both the public and private sector are standing up and fighting back — for better wages, better working conditions, safety on the job, and for the freedom to form and join unions.

Working people understand that unions are the key to this country’s future. In fact, a new Gallup poll shows support for labor unions among Americans is at a 15-year high and steadily increasing. It’s easy to see why. Union contracts are the most effective tool working people have to place a check on corporate power. Unions make workplaces safer and raise the bar for all working people.

Unions built the middle class by empowering working people to take an active role in what goes on in their workplaces and demand a fair return on the wealth they help create. Millions of union members continue to power this country and its economy. Just look at our nation’s transportation system: the frontline transportation workers that keep America moving are proud members of TTD’s 32 affiliated unions.

All told, these union workers move millions of people and more than 17.6 billion tons of goods valued at over $18 trillion each year. Because of their work, we all benefit, and workers in transportation benefit from high union density. Those advantages don’t just include higher wages and greater job security. In industries where work can be particularly hazardous, like transportation, working people know that strong unions lead to safer working conditions, a level playing field, and a bold, amplified voice in the halls of government.

So, it comes as no surprise that working people are doing what they always have – they are getting the job done, and they are joining together. From recent, historic organizing victories in the transportation sector and beyond to an overwhelming rejection by voters of a dangerous right-to-work proposal, workers across the country are standing up and fighting for their rights.

This Labor Day – and every day – transportation labor stands with working families across this country. We recommit to our efforts to ensuring frontline transportation workers, and all working people, have a share in the wealth they help create and the freedom to form and join unions. We know what working Americans know: honoring the contributions of workers means celebrating the power working people have when they join together, and recognizing the important role unions and their members have played, and will continue to play, in shaping this country.

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