Media Center

Aug 30

Labor Day – a time to tell our story

ATU International President John Costa released the following statement to mark Labor/Labour Day in the United States and Canada.

"It’s Labor Day weekend. Many communities in the U.S. and Canada will have parades. Union members will march, carrying banners, proudly celebrating the work they do, cheered on by friends and neighbors.

"But in most communities Labor Day is simply the last weekend of the summer. A time for one last trip to the beach, for barbecues, and time with family and friends. The long weekend will pass without the slightest acknowledgement of what it’s about.

"More than likely, most people don’t even know that the day celebrates the union movement. And that’s a shame.

"If more people knew about labor history, they would view the continual erosion of workers’ rights with more alarm. They’d recognize that the rich and powerful are doing everything they can to turn the clock back to the days when workers toiled long hours in unsafe conditions for little pay, and union organizers were beaten in the streets.

"They’d readily understand that when businesses rob workers of pensions, health care, sick days, holidays, and vacations, they’re treating their employees the exact same way they were treated 100 years ago.

"They’d easily comprehend what their governments are doing when they take away worker protections. They’d know, that even if they weren’t in a union, it would be bad for them.

"This is the situation workers face today, as we go sleepwalking into a future in which the middle class slides into poverty and an elite clique of 21st Century robber-barons grab the lion’s share of the world’s wealth.

"That doesn’t have to happen, but workers need to tell their story, so that people will wake up to what’s happening.

"There are a whole lot more middle class and poor people in this world than there are super-rich, and we don’t have to put up with it. 

"With perseverance and organization, we can wrest control of our economies from the ones who always want more, and are never satisfied.

"We can speak truth to power – countering the lies that provide cover for the wholesale plundering of our nations’ treasure by those who need it least.

"This Labor Day, we resolve to turn that around. It must be done so that we, our children, and grandchildren can earn living wages, and live a better life."