By Dennis R. Pierce
BLET National President
CLEVELAND, September 4 — This weekend we celebrate American workers and the labor movement. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen was founded on May 8, 1863, and our members were among the first to lay down their lives and fight for the rights that you enjoy today. Many Americans — not just railroaders — benefit from the sacrifices made by these early rail workers.
Organized labor has contributed substantially to the highest standard of living and the highest levels of worker production the world has ever known. While Labor Day is intended to be a tribute to the sacrifices of workers, we unfortunately find that these contributions are now less valued than they have been at any time since the exploitive days before the dawn of the labor movement.
As we have seen recently, government and big business are conspiring against workers by crafting policies that are intended to hurt working men and women instead of celebrating them as the back bone of society. This is evident in the so-called “right-to-work” battle currently raging in the state of Missouri. It is a part of the War on Workers, which has been in high gear for the past several years.
Big business and the government have done everything in their power to ensure a weak labor movement. Why? A weak labor movement cannot best represent the interests of workers and a weak labor movement is less likely to put fair wages into the hands of any company’s employees.
On this Labor Day, becoming involved in your union and supporting union-friendly candidates at the ballot box are two of the best ways you can stand up for working families and Middle Class Americans. This is your Brotherhood, and we can be only as strong as your willingness to get involved and stay involved; that is your personal obligation as a BLET member. Fulfilling your obligation to vote in union elections, as well as national, state and local elections, is the best way to honor those who fought for your right to vote, whom we remember this weekend. We need to work together to transform government from a tool of the bosses to a servant of the people.
We certainly have our work cut out for us, but we realize that the stakes are far too high to lose. On behalf of the BLET Advisory Board, I wish you all a happy and healthy Labor Day.