It is time to unofficially say “Goodbye” to Summer. Picnics. Parties. The Beach. One last Summer “hurrah” for 2015.
But it is so important to not forget what Labor Day is about. Over the centuries, so many have died, millions have been injured while trying to earn a living to support themselves and their families. And for too long, those lives never mattered.
It has been a long fight to obtain things that employees, human beings need, the basics: a 40 hour work week, health benefits, the right not to be discriminated against for gender, race, age, etc., sick leave and the list goes on. It is not a lot to ask for, especially when so many jobs carry risks to your well-being, to know that you and your family are taken care of.
While many oppose unions, I have been on both sides of the work force. There have been stereotypical remarks made about them, some earned, some not earned. Overall, unions have been critical for fighting for rights of employees and getting things like living wages and health benefits. Non-union employees have even benefited from unions from simple awareness of what non-union employees do not have compared to what is possible. No, management and corporate America do not like unions because unions fight for their employees rights… right to decent wages and benefits, and rights of employment to be free from unjust actions. And I have to throw this in, just so that I am not being accused of being naïve, yes, there are “bums” in unions, those who just take full advantage that no matter how much of a screw-up you can be, you will always keep your job. But for the majority of union-workers, they are good, hard working family members, many who put their lives on the line day after day.
I know what my life was like with employment before the last job I had, and it was two and a half decades of minimum wages, and no benefits, no job protection from an employer who if they chose, could randomly and without reason or justification, terminate or discriminate against me. But I have also had the employer who went to bat for me when I was diagnosed with my cancer, paying for better benefits to make sure I got the best care available, increasing my wages so that if I missed time for work, it would be less of a struggle for me financially, and protected me from being discriminated just because I did not feel well one day due to my treatments.
But I also know what it is like to have a powerful union behind me, to help me fight discrimination against me as I fought health issue after health issue, needing support as I invoked my American With Disabilities Act and Family Medical Leave Acts rights, something most non-union employees have any idea exists, and without a union, most likely are to intimidated to even think about using. Of course the benefits of unions are obvious, better wages, better benefits, better sick leave, and even better vacation time.
Labor Day is more than just saying “Goodbye” to Summer. For most, it is about remembering those who sacrificed their lives, their health, just to provide for their families.