Why Labor Day Matters

Labor Day has existed as a monument to hard working Americans and unions for more than 100 years, having been enacted unanimously by Congress and signed into law by President Grover Cleveland after the killing of dozens of workers by the Army and US Marshals during the Pullman Strike of 1894. Over the years, union workers have gained workplace rights and good wages for people across America–benefits they’ve won include sick days, overtime, vacation days, just to name a few. Collectively, these 15 million union members nationwide work to set the standards for education, wages, skill levels, and working conditions. Unions act as the united voice of working people, ultimately benefiting all of us.

Unfortunately, Republican gubernatorial candidates have been continually working to destroy the unions that have worked so hard for the American people. Keith Downey, for instance, has long supported “right to work” legislation that could drive down wages, decrease employment rates, and prevent working people from having health insurance.

With Matt Dean as Majority Leader, House Republicans tried to push through a “Right to Work” amendment in 2012; though it ultimately failed, this amendment could’ve hurt both union and non-union members across the state.

In his first failed gubernatorial campaign, Tea Party Republican Jeff Johnson stated that turning Minnesota into a “right to work” state was one of his top priorities.

Had it been up to Republicans like Dean, Downey, and Johnson, Minnesota would’ve become a Right to Work state that could’ve been home to lower wages and incomes and higher fatality rates in the workplace.

Today, Minnesota is not a Right to Work state, and we have some fantastic local unions to thank for that. So this Labor Day, while you celebrate with friends and family, remember to thank some union members for the awesome benefits employees statewide have.

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