Labor Day message: We’re in this together
By Nancy Guyott Guest columnist August 31, 2012 12:22PM
Nancy Guyott. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 3, 2012 6:10AM
You probably didn’t give it much thought when you flipped on your light switch this morning.
But, when you turned on your light, you were depending on miners, railroad workers and electricians.
Next, you might have stumbled into your kitchen to make a pot of coffee, and depended on farm workers, truckers and production employees all before you really opened your eyes.
We are connected through work, and we all rely on one another. Teachers depend on electricians, who count on steel workers, who need nurses and engineers, who rely on researchers and bus drivers and flight attendants, who depend on transportation and child-care workers, who need auto workers and traffic cops and firefighters. And so it goes.
On this Labor Day, I want to encourage all Hoosiers to take a moment to thank some of the women and men who allow you to do your work, live your life and keep America going.
After all, Labor Day is for them — and for you.
Work connects us all.
That’s why America prospers when the people who are the pulse of this great nation are recognized, respected and rewarded, every day.
Workers are the profit creators for our society, and we do best when we treat workers with respect and honor their basic work-place rights — the right to work in concert with one another, join or form a strong union, and negotiate for a better shake, to fully participate in the electoral process, to send their kids to good public schools, and enjoy a measure of dignity and security in old age or ill health.
The route to real prosperity for all is building a high-wage economy with full employment, economic security and a restored democracy. Investments here at home create a virtuous cycle of good jobs, fair wages, consumer-driven growth, thriving businesses and communities, a promising future for our children and better lives for people around the world.
Never in our lifetimes has there been a starker contrast between two competing visions of our country’s future — between a ladder to the middle class for all, and a secret staircase to wealth for Wall Street and the richest 1 percent.
You see, some folks want to pull away the ladder, now that they’re at the top. In their vision of America, you reward those who game the system, no matter the consequences for the rest of us.
You preserve and even increase tax cuts for sending good middle-class jobs overseas.
You extend the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans and force the middle class to pick up the tab by ending Medicare as we know it, raising the age for Social Security, and undermining our future with cuts to education, infrastructure, public safety and other basic services for U.S. families.
You tell your kids to expect less from America, and pursue policies like falsely-labeled right-to-work laws or attacks on the rights of workers to negotiate for a better life. That accelerates a vicious downward spiral for our communities.
Sadly, the deluge of money into our election system has made too many politicians more interested in helping wealthy CEOs who fund their campaigns than in helping the rest of us.
But work connects us all. And we can use our strength in numbers, come together and make our voices heard in this election and beyond. We can insist that working people get the dignity and respect they earn every day. We can demand for our kids the hope of a brighter future than we had at their ages. And we can rebuild the middle class by creating a sustainable economy that works for all.
In the months and years ahead, working people — union members and nonunion workers — must stand together and ensure America chooses the right path. We must talk to one another. We must recognize the fact we are all connected. And we must continue to work each day to build the America our kids and grandkids deserve. It’s on us.
Nothing is more American than creating an economy that works for everyone.
Nancy Guyott is president of the Indiana State AFL-CIO, which represents more than 300,000 Hoosiers in 800 local unions across the state belonging to 50 International Unions