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Labor Day 2016: Why America Needs a Strong Movement for Working People

“Today is Labor Day—and there’s a good reason it’s a national holiday. By organizing together and fighting collectively, workers have been able to better their lives and the lives of their families. So rather than think about Labor Day as the last gasp of summer or bemoan the loss of union clout, let’s redouble our efforts to recreate an enduring middle class.
Click here to urge Congress to stand with American workers and their unions.
“Robust unions help everyone, not just members, and a growing body of research demonstrates that. There’s a multiplier effect. Unions lift up communities, strengthen the economy and deepen our democracy.
“Last week, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released a study showing that when union membership falls, wages fall for everyone. If unions were as strong today as in 1979, non-union men with a high school diploma would earn an average of $3,016 more a year. And the Center for American Progress (CAP) has found that kids who live in communities where unions are strong have a better chance to get ahead. 
Click here for EPI’s report.
“For those in unions, the advantage is even clearer. Collective bargaining leads to higher wages, economic growth, equality under the law, better public services and a strong public education system—all essential to leveling the playing field for working families. Workers in unions earn, on average, 27 percent more than their nonunion counterparts. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has found unions close the pay gap for women, and the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) has found black workers see outsized gains from union representation. It’s a powerful reminder of the link between organized labor and economic success.
Click here for more on unions’ impact on the gender pay gap.
“You see the union advantage in our advocacy as well. When the recession devastated the construction sector and put millions of Americans out of work, the American labor movement came together with the goal of raising $10 billion to repair the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Five years later, our members’ pension funds reallocated $16 billion for infrastructure investments, including rehabilitating New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, turning it into a travel hub befitting a great modern city and creating good American jobs in the process.
Click here to learn more about our union’s effort to rebuild LaGuardia Airport.
“Despite years of right-wing attacks on unions, which have curbed union strength dramatically, a 2015 Gallup poll found a majority of Americans would join a union if they had the choice. They want what a union offers: a voice in their workplace, the opportunity to negotiate wages and benefits, and the ability to retire with dignity and security.
Click here for press coverage of last year’s survey.
“Indeed, despite all the attacks waged against us, AFT—which celebrated our 100th anniversary at our national convention this summer—has grown over the past several years, with well over 1.6 million K-12 and higher education educators and staff, state and local public employees, and nurses and other healthcare professionals as members. 
Click here for photos of Connecticut union members at our national convention.
“And now we are seeing more vulnerable workers, such as adjunct faculty, graduate students, teachers at charter schools and early childhood educators seeking to join our ranks. In the private sector, tens of thousands of low-income workers have joined the Fight for 15 and the union movement because they know a union will help them get long-denied wage increases.
“The aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II led our country to understand we were all in it together. We established the GI Bill and other educational access and equity programs; management and labor respected each other, with unions being the voice of labor; and the middle class thrived.
“Now, as income inequality is again at its height, let’s remember on this Labor Day what a strong labor movement has done—and can do again—to help workers, our communities, the economy and our democracy grow and thrive. 
“This Labor Day, let’s make sure our elected officials remember as well.”

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