Bobby Kasper: On Labor Day, let’s celebrate our freedom to join together

Bobby Kasper

This Labor Day is more important than ever for working families across this country. Union members can take back their freedom by getting out there and taking action.

We must get out there and organize our union membership. We need to have a strong commitment to internally organizing our union membership. We must talk to our union members one by one and listen to what they have to say.

It is important to know that the majority of Americans have a positive view of our unions. We need to fight and stand up against corporate-backed policies and politicians that have looked to strip away our pay, benefits and workplace safety.

Brothers and sisters, it comes down to this: Are we going to stand up and fight for our freedom to have a better life and our right to be a union member? We must be committed to working together in solidarity to have a stronger voice.

Corporate-backed politicians are out to destroy us and take away our freedoms – freedoms that labor unions and working people gave their blood and guts to win for those of us working today.

It is our responsibility to get out there and organize and volunteer and stand up for higher education and to push for more American manufacturing, accessible health care and civil liberties for all races in this country. Yes, our civil rights are under attack, our labor rights are under attack and our rights to join a union are under attack.

Labor Day is not only a time to enjoy with our families, but also it is a time for us to recreate collective action. In America we must continue to value our personal freedoms, and American working families deserve the freedom to bargain collectively for fair wages, good benefits, a safe workplace and a secure work environment.

We have an obligation to get out there and fight back the anti-union legislation that is coming our way. From right to work – which is nothing but a misleading policy and law that could destroy our labor unions’ future – to the removal or repeal of prevailing wage laws, these attacks threaten American unions and our freedom to prosper.

We must tell the facts and spread the word that labor unions don’t just raise wages, they give working people voice, control and self-determination. Unions elevate fairness, justice and high standards throughout the economy.

Sometimes non-union workers benefit from unions as well. States with higher union density have a better quality of life, with stronger economic growth, better education and longer life expectancy.

Our work as a labor movement is gaining steam. In fact, we are riding a wave of pro-worker momentum. Because of our unity at the bargaining table and the ballot box, working people in 2016 won the largest pay increase in years.

Yes, collective action is on the rise. Across the country, working people are taking action to win the freedom to negotiate a fair return on our work so we can provide for our families. We are breaking ground everywhere, from manufacturing to digital media, hospitality to higher education.

This is good news! And we must promote our freedom to stand together, to organize in numbers and to negotiate our fair share that the American worker deserves. Our passion and commitment are the keys for union members to promote the freedom to organize without intimidation from the boss.

These are exciting, challenging times for our nation and for our movement. This Labor Day, let’s renew our commitment to building an economy that works for all of us. Let’s celebrate our freedom to work together. Let’s build on the incredible achievements America’s working people have made through collective action.

Happy Labor Day!

– Bobby Kasper is President of the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, representing over 100 affiliate unions with more than 50,000 members in Ramsey, Washington, Dakota and Chisago counties. Learn more about the federation and its work at http://www.stpaulunions.org.

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