Together, we are strong

To the Editor:

Last week, we celebrated Labor Day – four months after the International Workers’ Day, but a celebration of workers no less. Amid the long weekend, the sales and barbecues, we should take a moment to acknowledge where the labor movement has been, and where it is going.

100 years ago we had no minimum wage, no eight-hour day, and no child labor regulations. It wasn’t until 1933 that it became legal for workers to organize into a union, and through the militancy of workers movements we gained a 40-hour work week, a minimum wage, an end to child labor, Social Security, Medicare, and countless other victories for the workers of America.

But what has happened since then?

The past 40 years have been a constant barrage of class warfare as corporations have fought to undo the gains made under the New Deal and the Great Society through massive deregulations. CEOs have increased their compensation by almost 1,000% while the average worker has only seen a 10% increase. The cost of living has gone up 67% while the minimum wage only 11%. The five richest families in America have a combined net worth of over $380 billion, meanwhile the median household income is just under $60,000. And finally, union membership has seen a steady decline since it’s peak in the mid-1900s, while the income going to the top 10% has seen a substantial increase. The bottom line is that we live in a country where the rich continue to get richer while workers are left behind to fend for themselves.

What needs to change?

In the wake of Janus and the shameless attacks on public sector unions, we need to return to a class-conscious America. We have to resist the attempts by corporate-bought politicians to divide us based on race, gender, or sexuality, and instead fight for a better future for all of us. And most importantly we need to return to militant organizing, with every worker in America represented within a union, from industrial workers to teachers to sign twirlers. Because divided we are weak, but together we are strong.

Zach Turturino

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