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Living in Society

Labor Day 2022

Tomatoes before processing.

Thank a union if you have today off work.

In 2021, 15.8 million wage and salary workers, 11.6 percent of the workforce, were represented by a union according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is a small, yet mighty segment of the American people.

The flip side of this is 313.7 million Americans are not represented by a union. To me, that is the more significant number. Most of us have plenty of non-paid work to do.

I wrote about my relationship with unions in 2007.

I have been on just about every side of the union issue, beginning with my membership in what was then called the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America in 1971 (where I hold a retirement card). I worked at the University of Iowa while AFSCME unsuccessfully tried to organize us in the early ’80s, and supervised groups of teamsters from Local 238 in Cedar Rapids, and Local 142 in Philadelphia. In Philadelphia I negotiated the contract with the local business manager. My mechanics signed cards when I ran a trucking terminal near Chicago, and ultimately decided the teamsters union was not for them. Based on this experience, I know a bit about unions.

Fair Share Ten Years Later by Paul Deaton, Jan. 15, 2007.

If you believe unions are strong in 2022, some of them are. There are high profile news stories about organizing Amazon workers and Starbucks employees. Time Magazine reported last October the number of work stoppages over contract issues had doubled. Simple facts of the American economy emerging from the coronavirus pandemic — higher corporate profits, a Democratic president who supports organized labor, and a shortage of workers — have created a pro-labor sentiment. My advice is for workers to get what they can, while they can, as this environment may not endure once corporations determine how to cope with workforce changes.

Rick Moyle, executive director of the Hawkeye Area Labor Council AFL-CIO, wrote in this morning’s Cedar Rapids Gazette we should hold elected officials accountable.

The bottom line is that we can no longer allow our elected officials to say one thing on the campaign trail and do just the opposite once elected. They bank on people forgetting the statements and promises they have made. Working people can no longer afford to be duped into partisan rhetoric and hot button topics. We must come together and hold our elected officials accountable, regardless of party affiliation.

On Labor Day Hold Politicians Accountable by Rick Moyle, Cedar Rapids Gazette, Sept. 5, 2022.

Ahead of Labor Day, AFL-CIO launched what it believes is the largest voter organizing drive in history to restore America’s promise. “All told, more than 100,000 volunteers will reach at least 7.7 million working people between now and Election Day,” according to an article at Iowa Labor News.

On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday. President Grover Cleveland signed it into law. Even though I retired during the pandemic, and its been many years since I carried a union card, I believe I’ll take the day off, work at home, and thank a union.

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