The Labor Movement never has been without its challenges. However, one would have to go all the way back to the 1920s to find a time when our rights have been under such attack.
When we gathered for this meeting last year, the first wave of union members, their families, their friends and their neighbors had entered the state house in Madison to launch what became the “We Are Wisconsin” campaign. They were fighting against legislation to do away with collective bargaining for public sector workers – including teachers, police officers and fire fighters.
The measure passed, but the battle didn’t stop there. The grassroots campaign of unionists and their allies successfully recalled two state senators and is in the midst of recalling the governor. Similar movements repealed almost identical anti-collective bargaining legislation in Ohio and held firm to sustain the New Hampshire governor’s veto of a right-to-work (for less) bill.
Nationally, forces coalesced under the “We Are One! Respect Our Rights” banner. In the fall, the “Occupy Wall Street” encampment in Manhattan protesting corporate greed and power expanded around the world and included workers’ rights as a cause.
However, the rights of unions and their members remain under attack. Last month, Indiana joined the ranks of those states with right-to-work (for less) governing its work sites. In Washington, D.C., opponents of the labor movement have introduced legislation that would impose right-to-work (for less) standards in all 50 states.
Nothing seems too small or petty. In Maine last year, the governor removed a mural from its Labor department that reflected the history of workers in that state.
Nothing is sacred. Be it Social Security or Medicare, Davis-Bacon or Project Labor Agreements, important worker protections are being targeted for repeal or curtailment. But while we have not won every battle, we have fought back and exacted a price.
We continue to fight against the privatization of Social Security and Medicare. Our message remains constant – worker rights must be respected; what has been fought for, worked for and earned must be kept.
All across the nation, trade union activists are involved in grassroots efforts
The MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils vow to carry on the fight and to support the AFL-CIO educational and grassroots campaigns in every way possible, including money, marbles and chalk.