Labor Day is a time to reflect on the struggles workers still face

Labor Day weekend is upon us. Most people look at Labor Day as a three-day weekend, summer’s last hoorah. It’s also a time to look at who built this state and who gave you that three-day weekend. Let’s honor the labor struggles that built Wisconsin. Wisconsin was the pioneer of the nation. Wisconsin was the first to establish stringent child labor laws, unemployment insurance, collective bargaining and worker’s compensation.

Recent years have not been so kind to Wisconsin. The last decade has shown a major upheaval in collective bargaining, attacking unions, and in reducing worker’s compensation in Wisconsin. Yet despite what we are up against, we must remain together in these struggles. In the words of Fighting Bob LaFollette, “Democracy is a life, and it involves a continuous struggle.”

Jobs have not been paying a living wage on top of a non-sustaining amount of work hours that certainly show how the divide between rich and poor continues to widen. Affordable housing is becoming out of reach to many. Homelessness has increased. Together we must build a fair economy where people have a chance to work their way into the middle class.

Let me tell you some of the things we have because of our unions: sick leave, a minimum wage, weekends, 40 hour work weeks, overtime pay, child labor laws, and even lunch and bathroom breaks. That’s right; when employers weren’t legally required to provide something as small as bathroom breaks, many didn’t. Just look at Amazon today! Are we heading backwards? Who stands up for you in your workplace? This is why we need unions. They protect you and me. They protect workers and their families. This Labor Day, take a moment to reflect.