A Labor Day message

2007

Since the United States is celebrating Labor Day this Monday, this seems like the perfect time to discuss the importance of trade unions. Despite whatever misgivings we may have about them (and many of these complaints are definitely valid), they are far outweighed by their service in representing the average Joe.

As this article points out, however, unions remain balancing force in capitalist societies. In recent months, there have been numerous articles referring to pending legislation that gives workers the right to choose union representation. Before scoffing and dismissing this idea as a working man's problem, let's be honest: we're all working men and women – most of who couldn't go without our regular paycheck.

In the aforementioned article, the contributor mentions that one of his most worthwhile cases involved "winning" proper chairs for employees. In case you were wondering, they were using stools and phone books before negotiations. Do bosses really expect us to sit on phonebooks in the 21st century?

While you may think that this example is extreme, there are countless other examples that almost any union represented employee could share with you. Without going 100% union, I can remember working in France and enjoying representation – this group represented the salaried employee when disputes arose with management. We were protected. Such a concept would do us well in America, though you can bet K street lobbyists in Washington DC would warn us of the evil "communist" perils therein.

Just think about this the next time you don't get that well-earned pay raise, or when your employer wants to exercise his or her "at will" employment rights to get rid of you - or when you don't get all the bereavement days afforded you. You'll probably wish you had someone to hold your employer's feet to the fire.

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