OP ED: This Labor Day Take a Moment to Thank Your Local Union

This Labor Day Take a Moment to Thank Your Local Union
By DFL Chairmen Ken Martin

As we enjoy this long weekend – take a moment to thank your local union.

We celebrate Labor Day to remember the men and women who fought for the forty-hour work week, pensions, the end of child labor, workers’ compensation, safer workplaces, better benefits, a secure retirement, and yes – the weekend. Together, we’ve reduced the gender pay gap, fought and won battles against discrimination in the workplace, and ended many of the unfair hiring and firing practices of our past – chipping away at racism, sexism and disability-based discrimination.

Labor Day is also a time to commit ourselves to building an economy that works for working people – not just the folks at the top.

There’s only one party that has committed themselves to that goal – the DFL. The “L” in DFL stands for “Labor”, and we stand with Labor in their fight for working men and women throughout Minnesota.

In the depths of the Great Recession, President Obama and Democrats stood with unions to rebuild our economy. For example, when Republicans wanted to let the auto industry go bankrupt, President Obama and congressional Democrats stepped in and prevented the industry’s collapse. Since then, the industry has rebounded, with more than 640,000 auto-industry jobs created and record auto sales in 2015.

Pro-worker policies aren’t just good for people who work for a living – it’s good for the entire economy. At the end of the last Republican administration, our economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month. Under the Obama Administration, we’ve added more than 15 million new jobs since early 2010. As President Clinton declared at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, since 1961, Democratic presidents had created 42 million jobs in 24 years of White House control. Republicans had created 24 million jobs in 28 years of White House control.

Here in Minnesota we can’t afford four years of Republican leadership in the White House or more Republican intransigence on the state level. We need a comprehensive transportation package, a bonding bill to put thousands of Minnesotans to work and other pro-worker policies that will grow our state.

If we want to keep growing the workforce, increasing wages and expanding the middle class, we need to organize politically and elect leaders up and down the ticket who stand with Labor. We need to elect DFLers.

The choice couldn’t be more clear this year, especially when it comes to the presidency.

Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine believe that when unions are strong, America is strong. They want to invest in good-paying jobs, raise the minimum wage, guarantee equal pay, enact paid family leave, restore collective bargaining rights, incentivize businesses to share profits with employees and prevent countries like China from abusing global trade rules. Most importantly, they want to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.

And they understand working families. Hillary Clinton grew up in a middle-class family, the daughter of a homemaker and a small-business owner who manufactured curtains for office buildings and hotels. Tim Kaine’s mother was a teacher, his father a welder who owned a small iron-working shop. They have both spent their careers fighting for families like their own.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has enriched himself by sticking it to working people for decades. Whether it’s making his products overseas with cheap foreign labor, preventing unionization at his hotels, stiffing the small businesses who worked on his casinos, discriminating against minority families in his buildings, or declaring bankruptcy to protect himself while leaving employees high-and-dry, Donald Trump has shown little to no regard for working people.

During this presidential campaign, Trump even said he thinks wages in America are “too high.” You’d be hard-pressed to find many working Americans who agree with that out-of-touch sentiment.

Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, would be just as bad for workers. In Indiana, Pence repealed an 80-year-old law that protected wages for construction workers, he defends his state’s anti-union “right-to-work” law, and he’s opposed to raising the minimum wage.

It’s also important to look beyond the top of the ticket this November – Democrats like Congressman Rick Nolan are fighting for higher wages, better benefits, and economic security for all Americans. By contrast, Republicans have held up legislation that would raise the minimum wage, create jobs,

This Labor Day, let’s recommit ourselves to electing leaders who will stand with labor, fight for workers, and fight to expand opportunity for all Americans. We are stronger together.


Filed under: DFL News, Labor & Business Affairs