Elected Officials Ignore Workers at Their Own Peril


Labor Day is a time for the U.S. to reflect on the benefits this nation gains from hard-working men and women who toil long hours to build, create and serve the needs of this great country.

Increasingly, everyday Americans are facing challenges in the workplace. Whether it is low pay, unsafe work conditions or the threat of job relocation overseas, elected officials need to be more cognizant of the plight of their constituents. That’s why the Teamsters and other unions stand up — so those with no ties to the corporate elite are counted.

This three-day weekend, thousands will make their voices heard in parades across the country. One of those is in Buffalo, N.Y., where Teamsters Joint Council 46 President and Local 449 Principal Officer George Harrigan will serve as grand marshal of the 2016 Buffalo AFL-CIO Council Labor Day Parade. He said it is essential for workers to demand justice.

“It’s an honor to lead a group of trade union activists,” he said. “We need to be the conscious of not only worker rights but human rights. It’s the only way this world will move forward.”

The day of events begins with a blessing of worker tools before the mile-long parade takes place. Some 250 current and retired Teamsters are expected to participate among the thousands overall. A family picnic will follow.

Lawmakers need to keep these people in mind as they craft policy. Whether it’s in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Memphis or the scores of other cities where Labor Day celebrations will take place, these are real people with real concerns that need to be addressed. Politicians ignore them at their own peril.

As Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said, “An elite few may have the money, but we have the boots on the ground. I urge you to fight back by getting involved. You can make a difference by talking to workers in organizing drives; attending rallies; urging politicians to support issues such as fair trade; voting for pro-labor candidates; and by becoming a member of DRIVE, our powerful political action committee. Be proud of our legacy, and tell others what it means to be in a union—solidarity, democracy and respect.”

Teamsters should never forget where they came from – and neither should elected officials.