On this holiday weekend, I am reminded of everything we have to be thankful for as a result of our institutions of organized labor. Workplace safety regulations, fair wages, fringe benefits, standardized hours and work weeks … the list goes on. Having recently returned from the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I was reminded of the words of Walter Reuther, president of the United Automobile Workers of America and vice president of the AFL-CIO, who spoke before Martin Luther King Jr. on that day in 1963. Sadly, I was reminded of the truth of his words ringing in today’s America, where politicians hold our citizens hostage in order to coddle special interests and radical fringes.
“We need to join together, to march together, and to work together until we have bridged the mortal gap between American democracy’s noble promises, and its ugly practices … American democracy has been too long on pious platitudes …”
“There are too many high octane, hypocrisy Americans. There is a lot of local talk about brotherhood, and then some Americans drop the brother and keep the hood … this rally today should be the first step in a total effort to mobilize the moral conscience of America, and to ask the people in Congress of both parties to rise above the partisan differences …”
“If we can have full employment, and full production for the negative ends of war, then why can’t we have a job for every American in the pursuit of peace?”
“Men of good will must join together, men of all races, and creed, and color, and political persuasion, and motivated by the spirit of human brotherhood. We must search for answers in the light of reason through rational and responsible actions. Because if we fail, the vacuum of our failure will be filled by the apostles of hatred, who will search in the dark of night, and reason will yield to riots, and brotherhood will yield to bitterness, and bloodshed, and we will tear asunder the fabric of American democracy.”
So, this Labor Day, as we watch the parades and picnic around barbecues, let us also remember the greatness of the labor union movement — a movement dedicated not only to a better workplace, but to a better society … a better America.