Beyond barbecues: Labor Day

labordayThe Flint Sit-Down Strike, the Battle of the Overpass and the Anti-Right to Work rally last year — for generations, Michigan’s unions have been bloodied, gassed and arrested in order to protect the right to organize and the well-being of working families across the state. Unions were integral in establishing the eight-hour workday, implementing workplace safety regulations and building the middle class across Michigan and America. We must remember that on Labor Day and reflect on the challenges being faced by organized workers.

For decades, there has been a systematic attack on unions in Michigan and across the country. Fueled by the far-right and corporate interests, the results of this war on unions are quite clear. As union membership declines, middle class incomes decline along with it. And, as union membership falls, profits for the wealthy only increase.

Governor Rick “One Weak Geek” Snyder and the right-wingers in the legislature have proven over their tenure that they are no friends of Michigan’s unions or working families. That was made abundantly clear with the passage of Right to Work.

When Right to Work was rammed through the legislature last year, Governor Rick Snyder and conservatives argued that the legislation was about “freedom” and “choice” for workers. If it was really about the Freedom to Work, why’d they exempt police officers and firefighters? Don’t they deserve all of the joys and benefits of “freedom” and “choice” too? While we all know the reasons for passage were nonsense, if Snyder and conservatives were really about “freedom” and “choice,” then they’d also pass legislation that allows workers anywhere and everywhere to unionize without fear of retribution from their employer. They could call it “Right to Organize.” Sadly, we know that will never happen. Right to Work was never about “freedom” or “choice,” it was about busting unions and expanding corporate profits.

Even with radical conservatives attacking working peoples’ right to organize, the union movement in Michigan remains strong. The labor movement is continuing to fight for a strong working class and a better future for Michigan in the state’s hospitals, schools, factories, construction sites and police and fire departments. And we could be on the verge of a new labor revolution as fast food workers across the country are beginning to strike and demand a living wage.

Today — and everyday — Progress Michigan is proud to stand with our union brothers and sisters and defend the working men and women of Michigan. This Labor Day we also remember that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it and we stand ready in the fight to once again protect working families.

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