Labor Day

The following was written by Rod Sullivan, a Johnson County, Iowa, commissioner.  I am posting it here with his permission:

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*Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day next Monday! I love Labor Day. Every Memorial Day and
Veteran’s Day we set aside time to recall the folks whose service has given
us our freedom. I have long felt we need to treat Labor Day in a similar
fashion.

Please take a moment this Labor Day to remember the people who fought (and
often died) to give us child labor laws, 40 hour weeks, weekends, overtime,
vacations, the minimum wage, sick leave, parental leave, OSHA, employment
nondiscrimination, pensions, Social Security, health insurance, and so much
more.

Do not be fooled! These benefits were not GIVEN to workers by benevolent
corporations! They were earned by workers who sacrificed! It is a shame that
so many average Joes have chosen to support our corporate masters versus
supporting those whose efforts really benefit the masses.

Unions continue to provide the best protection working people can have. I
feel as though I have accomplished some good things as a member of the Board
of Supervisors. One of the accomplishments of which I am most proud is
starting an employee appreciation lunch every year the week of Labor Day.
Johnson County employees deserve much more, but this is one extra
opportunity to say thank you.

Trust me – the average person has nothing to fear from unions. We all
benefit when folks have safe and healthy workplaces. We all benefit when
workers get adequate rest.  [emphasis added]. We all benefit when workers receive good
training. We all benefit when folks earn a living wage and have health
insurance. Unions help improve the quality of life for all of us.

One example of a way in which unions benefit everyone: much is made of the
automobile industry expanding into the southern US. While these are not
union plants, workers still have good wages and benefits. Some see this as
an indictment of unions. It is precisely the opposite.

Do not think for a minute that these companies pay $22 per hour because they
WANT to. They would be much happier to pay $4 per hour. And, when China’s
workforce improves in quality to the point that they can do automotive work,
the companies will move there.

Understand – big companies exists for one reason, and that is to earn a
profit. If the laws allowed slavery, companies would use it. Because it is
cheaper.

So why do they pay $22 in the southern US? Because of the threat of the
United Auto Workers (UAW). If the wages or benefits ever sink too low, UAW
could unionize those workers. The car companies don’t want that, so they pay
the lowest possible acceptable wage.

See? The UAW does not represent the workers at those plants. But they have
driven up the wages and benefits for the workers there all the same.

I am proud to be a member of Local 716 of the American Federation of
Teachers, an affiliate of the Iowa City Federation of Labor. Happy Labor
Day!

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