The first Monday in September is set aside to remember the workers who made this country great. For more than 100 years, the hard work and dedication of Teamster members have been a symbol of pride, strength and unity throughout America. Typically, we look back to honor the countless union members, labor leaders and other historically significant figures who paved the way. This Labor Day, however, I want us to look to the future.
It is no coincidence that we are witnessing the erosion of the middle class and middle-income jobs at the same time that union membership is on the decline. While we continue to fight back against attacks on labor rights, the Teamsters Union is also looking forward. Last week we kicked off our new campaign to bring good jobs home and make the American dream a reality for working families again. The timing of our launch couldn’t be more fitting. That’s why this Labor Day I am asking all of our brothers and sisters in the labor movement to join us as we tell Congress: “Let’s Get America Working!”
There are steps that we can take now, Republicans and Democrats alike, to create and retain good jobs by investing in transportation infrastructure. The Teamsters Union urges Congress to support legislation that invests in the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, ports, airports, railroads and mass transit systems. Since the expiration of the last multi-year highway bill in 2009, Congress has passed only a few short-term extensions to keep surface transportation programs running. This is unacceptable. Congress must act now to ensure public safety, compete in the global economy, save money and create jobs.
As truckers, railroad workers, bus drivers, airline pilots and more, Teamsters have a front seat view of the problem. Together, we will not only make America stronger through building, maintaining and repairing our infrastructure, we will also rebuild the middle class by supporting legislation and regulation that gives workers a fair, timely and direct path to form a union; helps workers secure a contract with their employer in a reasonable period of time; and provides meaningful penalties against employers who violate their workers’ rights to form a union.
The U.S. economy is recovering, but many Americans have yet to see evidence of the recovery in their paychecks. Giving working people the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively and ensuring basic workplace protections and labor standards are essential steps toward strengthening our economy and growing our middle class. Unions have been and continue to be the main force bringing workers out of poverty and into the middle class. Union members know that America needs a dynamic and prosperous middle class to drive economic growth.
Labor Day reminds us that working people tell the true story of America. They are the mirror that shows how we live and whether we live up to our founding ideals. While we take this day to honor American workers, let us also use it to rededicate ourselves to the struggles we still face. Teamsters know that we cannot be content with the achievements of the past, because there is still much more to be done. Fortunately, we have the solutions to solve our nation’s economic problems and rebuild the middle class. It is my profound hope that a revitalized labor movement will once again empower working people to drive their own destinies and create a more equally prosperous America.