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Thank You Workers and Unions

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

Labor Is Beginning to Have It's Day

Labor Day is a holiday which comes with mixed emotions, in theory it’s a day that venerates the people that built this nation the workers not the owners, thereby celebrating one of the great democratizing and liberating forces our country's history: the collective power of organized labor. At the same time, one cannot overlook that Grover Cleveland moved Labor Day from May 1st to the beginning of September as a way to disassociate American workers from their international brethren, in just one of the panoply examples of our government’s undermining workers’ rights. Nonetheless, Labor Day brings forth, and should be a reminder of, the central value and appreciation of the real, hard work that people do in this country every day. Furthermore, the long weekend itself should be a testament to the power of collective action in its ability to better our lives and make America better live up to its ideals, for it was the labor movement that won US the weekend and the 8 hour work day in the first place! So, as we enjoy this long weekend, let us take this opportunity to reflect on the state of the labor struggle, and its importance in that search for a more representative democracy. While much of the world has often been doom and gloom over the past several years, with climate catastrophes and human rights being stripped away, there have been some bright spots when it comes to the labor movement. In fact, it's been decades since we've seen anything close to this level of organizing and militant activity. In just this past year, we've seen the unionization of Amazon warehouse, of over two hundred Starbucks locations, in addition to the start of unionization efforts at Chipotle and Trader Joe's. There is a palpable feeling of hope and a recognition that labor can in fact organize and fight back. Whether it’s in response to the same pressures bringing labor to the breaking point, or it’s simply witnessing workers actually racking up wins, it appears the American people are on team labor! With over 70% of Americans registering their support, and 40% saying unions are "extremely important," workers and unions are finally getting some well-deserved solidarity. This is a good development, because it’s when labor can be the spear point of a larger social movement aided by and advocating for the interests of the 99% that we gain true progress. The promising first seeds of this wider bargaining strategy in the labor movement can be seen in new the sectoral bargaining efforts of fast-food workers in California. Fast food workers recognized they were being pitted against each other by the fast-food chains in a race to the bottom, and they needed to organize across corporate lines to effectively advocate for themselves and each other. Their burgeoning efforts should gain a boost from the recently passed AB 257which gives workers more ability to negotiate wage increases and hours. The lesson of the labor movement has always been that together we are stronger. When we look out for each other and find the common ground in our struggles and build solidarity together, those are the conditions which lead to positive, lasting change. Any change, especially something that sticks, doesn’t happen overnight. So while it's very exciting to see all of this new labor activity, it’s important we keep in mind that this is a long road, full of Struggle. If we, workers and public both, forget about the roadblocks and inconveniences ahead then this nascent movement will falter and fail. Case in point, when Biden stepped-in to block the railroad workers from striking this summer, many people didn’t object as it would have interfered with our ability to get our goods and our commodities as quickly as we wanted them to. The prospect of inconvenience and delay was enough to undermine public support for the strike. We need to remember, in these moments, that strikes aren’t entered into lightly. Workers don’t strike because they are lazy, or because they do not love their jobs, or want to do a good one. It is frequently because they feel that things are so untenable that it would be worse for them to do their job and allow the status quo to continue. We must remember during the long fight for representative democracy: for economic rights, for labor rights, for human rights, that solidarity may, in the short term, cost some level of sacrifice or inconvenience, but ultimately that practice of solidarity, community building yields so much larger dividends than the down payment of public support. As we press forward, we must be ready to act with open hearts and accept that sometimes the actions of our brothers and sisters inconvenience us as they struggle for their dignity, and their rights. In these moments, it is our job to stand with them, and take the small lumps, they will then turn stand by us as we take our own actions. Strikes and labor day, however, aren’t the only time and way we can show solidarity with workers. Each week we can join together in a declaration and representation of the power of the 99%, utilizing not just our labor power but organizing our consumer power as well. When we exercise collective control in any avenue from the workplace to the consumer market we end up having the power to advocate for ourselves, for each other. It gives us the opportunity to make a more perfect union. So join us each Tuesday in growing solidarity as we fight for workers, as they fight for us, and as we all fight for a better tomorrow. #DSOT #UPM

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