Aug. 31, 2012 | In his Labor Day message to Teamsters, General-President Jim Hoffa wrote: "This Monday, we pay tribute to the millions of dedicated men and women who make our world better and keep our country working. Each and every year, Labor Day is a time for reflection.
The American labor movement is responsible for many things we take for granted—the weekend, the 40-hour work week and anti-child labor laws to name a few. Today, our movement is reinvigorated and working for other profoundly important things: securing wages and benefits that working families deserve, the continued existence of the middle class, and respect and dignity for all working people. I’m proud that the 1.4 million members of the Teamsters Union are at the forefront of this effort.
But make no mistake, working families are being attacked and scapegoated like never before. Public employees are being blamed for bad economies. Pensions and health care benefits are demonized as excessive perks of the past while the richest among us enjoy tax rates that are some of the lowest in our nation’s history.
Corporate-backed politicians have mounted the most vicious anti-union attacks in memory. Government workers are being stripped of their collective bargaining rights. Right-to-work-for-less laws to destroy unions are becoming law in many states. And if Mitt Romney is elected president, he has promised a federal Right-to-work law as payback to his big business backers. If this scares you, it should. In fact, at this very moment the Republican National Convention is meeting in Tampa where there message seems to be, “The Middle Class Hasn’t Suffered Enough”. And if they have to take away hard-fought health care benefits, pensions and the rest of our social safety net to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest people on the planet, that’s just what they’ll do—if we let them.
The ultimate goal of these extremist politicians is to further concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a few. These elite few may have the money, but we have the numbers. 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. Because if we don't educate the public, no one will.
On this Labor Day, I ask you to get involved and build support for working Americans — Our country’s true everyday heroes.