Our country can thank the IAM for Labor Day. After all, an American holiday celebrating the contributions of working people was proposed by Matthew Maguire, a leader of the Machinists Union in New York City, back in 1882.
While we’re justifiably proud of this historic contribution by our Union to the Labor Movement, Labor Day was never intended to belong to us alone.
It is a day to celebrate the solidarity of every man or woman who has fueled an airplane, picked up a wrench, lifted a bag, made a reservation, crawled a bin, toiled in the elements, operated a tractor, carried a clipboard, taught a child, unloaded a bag, taken a call, served a meal, stocked a shelf or asked a passenger to return a tray to its upright position and the list goes on.
This holiday belongs to all of these people and many more who built this civilization while wiping their brows, flexing their muscles and speaking their minds.
Labor made America and it is Labor that will build its future. And when Labor understands this role and works with unity of purpose, truly great things can happen.
Because of Labor solidarity and Unions, specifically we have: weekends; Social Security; vacations; safer working conditions; maternity and family leave; lunch and work breaks; child labor laws; sick leave.
That is above and beyond the good wages, health and pension benefits, and job protections (e.g. grievance procedures) that are guaranteed features of your union-negotiated contract.
One hundred and thirty-two years after that first Labor Day, solidarity – both within a single union and in concert with other unions – remains the answer to the aspirations of working people.
In recent decades, certain corporate-funded entities have tried to portray Unions as sinister organizations. Bit by bit, they have chipped away at the rights of working people to stand together and bargain collectively to improve their quality of life.
But Labor Day continues to remind us of our achievements of the past and the destiny we can build for ourselves in the years ahead.
This Labor Day marks the first day of my retirement which seems apropos, to me at least.
Thank you for your support of our Union, and our District Lodge 142.