As we head into Labor Day, I would like to take the opportunity to express how proud I am of the membership of UAW Local 249 and share a few thoughts. We have been through so much together the last few years, and I am truly thankful and humbled to be given the opportunity to serve this great Local as your President.
Those that know me well or have worked with me directly know that I am passionate about the future of our union and the working class. It’s not blind loyalty that drives me, but a deeply passionate belief in Unionism, not only because it is right, but because it is necessary for our continued existence in this country as working-class citizens. Unions and organized labor pulled this country out of the depths of depression and into a booming era of shared prosperity. This brought about an age where labor held power and a sway that laid the foundation for the lives, that an ever-shrinking number of workers are able to live today.
For most workers in our country, the days of pensions and retirement security are eroding or gone. The greed of corporations and their bought and paid for politicians have altered the economic landscape of this country and what it means to be working class now. What remains is our union family and the fundamental belief in the ideals that we were founded on.
We need to get back to the day and age where we celebrated Labor Day as it was intended. Labor Day is our own personal holiday, a day in celebration of the victory, sacrifices and contributions of those who labor in this country to make it what it is today. Long gone are the parades and the accolades, and all we are left with is the bitter disdain of those who don’t know what we really stand for.
Union membership and involvement has declined so severely over the decades that we are quickly approaching a crossroads.
In one direction unions will eventually dissolve away and our country will be run by the greedy and wealthy. The one percent will control the lives of those who work for them, and the working class will be no more. There will be no bargaining, no negotiating, the terms of employment will be set by each employer, and you will simply have to accept the terms and survive, or not.
In the other direction, we come together and re-organize this union and all the unions around us as if we were brand new. We focus on teaching what it means to be union, to educating our neighbors and communities on what a union is and how we enrich the communities we are part of. In this scenario we build back the power we once had and even though our nation is no longer made up of huge hulking smoke spewing factories anymore, there are other types of labor that are equally deserving of dignity and respect that can be organized.
We have become comfortable and complacent for too long, allowing ourselves to be caught up by insignificant stumbling blocks and missing the solid brick wall we are about to crash into. Brothers and sisters, it is time to lift our heads and look not only up but also around ourselves. What does our future hold? What is going on around us? How can we lend a helping hand? How can we recruit our neighbors and our communities to join us on this crusade to save ourselves from the tyranny of corrupt corporate masters only concerned with lining their own pockets?
This Labor Day I’m not asking you to give up your BBQ with your family, or to work on a day off that was intended specifically for you. I am asking you to reflect on what Labor Day means and find ways to carry the intention of this day into our daily lives, every day. This holiday should be deeply personal to all of us. Those of us that are engaged in the labor movement are always willing to champion this cause for you, for us, and for our future, but we cannot wage the war alone.
Stand with us Brothers and Sisters, let us make everyday Labor Day and take back the power we once held. Let us focus on what it means to be union. Let us teach the true purpose of unions to the downtrodden workers in the industries around us that desperately need and quite frankly deserve the same power that we far too often take for granted.
So please, take this UAW negotiated holiday, spend time with those you love, relax, and reflect so you may re-energize and then meet us on the battlefield to take this country back for the working class, for unions, and for the UAW that we know and love. Let’s make Labor Day, every day.