Our Power Is Our UnityAugust 30, 2019
By George Gresham
For most Americans, Labor Day – the first Monday in September – marks the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. But for us in the labor movement, the national holiday is a time to celebrate our contributions to our nation and to rededicate ourselves to the struggle for all working people.
On Labor Day the nation is reminded that unions gave us the eight-hour workday and the weekend off. Unions also lifted generations out of poverty, created safe workplaces and provided job security. Workers of every color, creed and ethnicity laid the foundations for our building and institutions, and even gave their lives to defend our freedoms. Their contributions echo the courage and sacrifice of hundreds of first responders who valiantly laid down their lives on 9/11 some 18 years ago.
Labor’s gains, however, have not come without fierce opposition from those who would divide us for their own personal gain. Today that division starts at the very top.
In 2016, candidate Trump promised that he would stand up to Wall Street, drain the Washington swamp, bring back American jobs, rebalance the trade deficit and invest one trillion dollars to begin repairing the nation’s failing infrastructure. But on virtually every issue, the president has cast his lot with business and the corporations over our nation’s working families and the poor.
Instead of keeping his promises, the president has sowed divisions and enacted policies to weaken the power of workers and our institutions. The administration has crippled workplace safety regulations and the ability of workers to arbitrate and to earn overtime. Further, the president and his enablers have appointed anti-labor judges from the appellate level all the way up to the Supreme Court.
As attacks on labor and working people increase, it is essential for us to stand firm and united in the fight to defend all the gains of working people and our communities. That means we must vigorously and loudly stand firm in rejecting all attempts to weaken us by exploiting our differences.
Just as we firmly believe that our nation derives its strength from its unity so it is with our movement. Throughout our nation’s history, our greatest advances have come when working people and their allies have resisted the forces of division and built broad unity. Each labor organizing fight, contract battle, and wage increase was won through collective power.
When our enemy attempts to separate and exploit us based on our differences, we stress our commonalities, while also celebrating the power of diversity. This unity has not only improved wages and conditions for working people, it also has meant greater democracy and equality within our communities and our nation.
As we head into 2020, the collective power of working people must play a critical role in determining the fate of our country. This Labor Day our movement must focus on building our power. We must fight to make it easier for all working people to join together in unions. And we must raise high the banner of solidarity with all those on the frontlines of the struggles against the most divisive and inhuman administration in recent history.
We have the tools to build the unity and organization needed to right our nation’s course. When we stand together and fight together, we will win together.