The United States Department of Labor heralds Labor Day as a “dedica[tion] to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contribution of workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
Funny how we still have a holiday devoted to the labor movement, while modern day politicians and media figures relentlessly try to vilify such organizations. Let’s refuse to buy into this propaganda and continue to support the unions that have pushed for better living and working conditions for all Americans.
Here are 4 labor groups that could use our support on this holiday:
1. Fast Food Workers
The labor dispute gaining the most attention currently is between fast food workers and their management. Unions have organized sporadic strikes at assorted restaurants across the country, including McDonalds, Taco Bells and KFCs, though there are currently mobilization efforts to turn the strike into a nationwide action.
Workers are demanding both the ability to unionize and a living wage. The $200 billion fast food industry is hardly short on profits to pay its employees fairly, but it may require the companies to stop paying their executives more than twice as much in a single day than their average worker makes in a year.
2. BART Employees
San Francisco’s popular public transit line is currently in a heated labor dispute. Though the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) continues to run during a 60-day “cooling off” time, it looks like the dispute might not get settled during this period on account of a $100 million discrepancy between union and management proposals.
BART workers haven’t received a raise in five years; their union representatives argue that pay needs to be adjusted to not only match inflation, but also the extraordinary cost of living around San Francisco.
The threat of a BART strike is frightening business for a city that has previously experienced the repercussions. With BART servicing nearly 375,000 passengers each weekday, buses and ferries were ill equipped to handle the sudden surplus, leaving many of the city’s commuters stranded.
3. The Minnesota Orchestra
Since last autumn, the Minnesota Orchestra has been in a prolonged labor dispute with its management. After having to cancel last year’s symphony season altogether, it looks similar action could occur this year if an agreement isn’t reached in the next couple of weeks. This time, however, if the two parties can’t successfully negotiate, the Minnesota Orchestra is likely to be permanently — apology for the pun — disbanded.
Thus far, the musicians are unimpressed with the management’s offer to cut their base pay by 32%. While the Minnesota Orchestra did agree to a mediator’s proposed compromise that would have the group rehearsed and ready for upcoming Carnegie Hall concerts, it was the management that declined this proposal.
4. Port Truck Drivers
Los Angeles and Long Beach port truck drivers are fighting the good fight for the ability to unionize. Comparing their jobs to “sweatshops on wheels,” the truckers complain that they are paid wages that leave them in poverty, are denied bathroom breaks and are forced to work overtime without compensation.
Thus far, the drivers’ parent company, Green Fleet, has intimidated the workers from trying to unionize, even going so far as to hire a law firm known for union-busting. Still, their threats were not enough to stop over one-third of the workforce from striking this past Monday, hindering the day’s shipping business.