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Many think labor unions are a relic of a bygone era, but labor unions are more relevant now than EVER before. First some history:
Labor Day came to existence during the heart of the industrial revolution in the late 1800’s. At that time, many Americans were working 12+ hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week for meager wages.
Working conditions were unsafe (no workers comp if you lost a finger) and factories often had little to no ventilation. Children as young as 5 worked mills, factories and mines for a fraction of the pay that adults made.
As a response to these conditions, unions became more vocal. They organized strikes and rallies to protest and compelled employers to renegotiate hours and pay. Many demonstrations (including The Pullman Strike and the Haymarket Riot) ended in bloodshed and even death.
The first Labor Day parade was held Sep. 5, 1882. 10,000 workers marched from New York’s City Hall to a giant picnic at an uptown park. Workers included printers, cigarmakers, shoemakers, dressmakers, bricklayers and other tradespeople. Their signs read “Less Work and More Pay.”
The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the 1st Monday in September, caught on in other industrial cities, and many states passed legislation recognizing it. President Grover Cleveland signed a bill into law on June 28, 1894, declaring Labor Day a national holiday.
Unions have become a controversial topic in our modern politics but we have them to thank for so much. Organized labor gave us the 8-hour work day. They gave us the “weekend,” a minimum wage, lunch breaks, workers compensation, the 40-hour work week, and ended child labor.
Our world in 2019 is obviously quite different than it was in the industrial era, but we CONTINUE to struggle with the issue of paltry wages. We continue to see people working hard and receiving little or no benefits and health insurance.
Unions are not without their problems, but we should work to fix those problems instead of stamping them out entirely. At a time when the middle class is shrinking, unions soften the effects of globalization by giving workers bargaining power.
Union membership is associated with lower income inequality and unions help give people a voice when they feel powerless.

I have and will continue to be a strong advocate of unions and you should be too. Happy Labor Day everyone. :)
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