A bumper sticker says, “Unions — the folks who brought you the weekend.” The eight-hour day and the five-day workweek weren’t just given to us. People had to fight for these rights. Sometimes, violence was used against workers, including in the coalfields of Pennsylvania.
Unions help equalize bargaining power between workers and the company. One individual has little bargaining power against a large corporation. But when workers join together, they have strength. Without a contract, you work “at will.”This means you can be fired even for no reason. Unions can help win job security, health care, higher wages, and safer and better working conditions.
Workers’ rights and job security are still under attack. That’s why we still need unions.
This Labor Day, I hope Americans will take time to appreciate the history of the labor movement. Books like “Strike!” by Jeremy Brecher, or “Why Unions Matter” by Michael Yates, describe the history of struggles for workplace rights. Let’s remember the sacrifices others made that allow workers to join unions and bargain together for better working conditions.
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Robert Baillie, State College