Not everybody realizes Labor Day was originally create to honor organized labor (i.e. labor unions). Few people also realize that labor unions were responsible for many of the workplace rights that created the American middle class.
Over the past fifty years, though, most of those hard-won rights have been under attack from billionaires and their political pawns. With that in mind, here are 17 of those hard-won rights and an "motivational" quote. (I'll tell you at the end why the quotes are motivational)
- Unions won us weekends. "Approximately 70% [of Americans] worked at least one weekend a month, with 63% saying that their employer expected them to put in time on an average Saturday and Sunday." - Forbes.
- Unions won us paid time off. "A total of more than 30 days of vacation time allotted to workers in France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom stands in stark contrast to the 10 public holidays in the U.S., which are not guaranteed to come with pay." -- CNBC
- Unions won us sick leave. "While the majority of large US corporations offer paid sick leave, data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 36% of workers don't have such protections." - Fortune
- Unions won us social security. "The tax cuts... will have a negative effect on Social Security in the near term, chiefly by reducing the program's income from the taxation of benefits." - Los Angeles Times
- Unions won us a minimum Wage. "Adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage peaked in 1968 at $8.68 (in 2016 dollars). Since it was last raised in 2009, to the current $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum has lost about 9.6% of its purchasing power to inflation." Pew Research
- Unions won us (theoretically) equal pay. "U.S. women working full-time earned just $0.80 for every dollar earned by a man in 2016. The wage gap widens even more when broken down by race. Black women make $0.63 for every dollar, while Latina women earn $0.54 cents." -- CNBC
- Unions won us anti-discrimination laws. "Companies are more than twice as likely to call minority applicants for interviews if they submit whitened resumes than candidates who reveal their race--and this discriminatory practice is just as strong for businesses that claim to value diversity as those that don't." -- Harvard Business School
- Unions won us the eight hour workday. "A survey, which was conducted via Slack over a span of roughly three minutes on Monday afternoon, found that 97 out of 97 respondents have at some point in the recent past checked their work email addresses on their cellphones or non-work-related computers." -- The Atlantic
- Unions won us overtime pay. "A paltry 7% of salaried workers received overtime pay." -- US Department of Labor
- Unions won us child labor laws. "Governors and state lawmakers, who succeeded this year in curbing union powers, are pushing to revise their child-labor laws to help companies such as groceries get workers. Wisconsin will let employers treat teenagers as adults in pay and hours, and Maine lawmakers want to let companies keep teens working longer hours." -- San Francisco Chronicle
- Unions won us the 40 hour work week. "In a Gallup survey of 1,200 adults, 21% work between 50 and 59 hours a week, 18% work more than 60 hours, and 11% work between 41 and 49 hours. That means that 50% of the adults surveyed work more than 40 hours a week." -- Gallup
- Unions won us employee pensions. -- "The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the agency set up 40 years ago to guarantee those pensions, made clear in its annual report released last month that one group of pension funds would most likely run out of money within a few years. Absent new legislation, the already modest pensions of some retired workers will be eliminated." -- New York Times
- Unions won us collective bargaining rights. "The lack of collective worker power helps explain why workers' wages have been stagnant for the past 40 years, and why working people are so frustrated -- as they have not reaped any of the gains of an improving economy." -- Economic Policy Institute
- Unions won us age discrimination laws. "Tech workers of all ages think older engineers are highly qualified, have good experience, and can share wisdom. But many older engineers are worried about losing their jobs as the tech workforce skews heavily towards Millennials." -- IEEE
- Unions won us whistleblower protection. "22 percent of corporate employees who reported misconduct faced retaliation, up from 12 percent in 2007. Most alarming, increases in the incidence of retaliation are outpacing the overall rate of increases in whistleblowing disclosures." -- Ethics Resource Center
- Unions won us privacy rights. "The battle for workplace privacy is over; privacy lost. Despite repeated language in judicial opinions regarding the need to balance the competing rights of employers and employees, no balancing occurs." -- American Bar Association
- Unions won us parental leave. "The United States remains the only country in the developed world that does not mandate employers offer paid leave for new mothers, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development." -- The Washington Post
Maybe you found those quotes alarming rather motivational? Well, I think they should motivate you to VOTE.