August 03, 2023
Labor Day 2023 is Monday, September 4th. It’s so much more than a three day weekend. The annual holiday comes to us courtesy of the blood, sweat and tears of the American Labor Movement.
Philadelphians can take pride in knowing that our great city was at the
forefront of the American Labor Movement. In 1794, Philadelphia shoemakers
banded together to form the Federal Society of Cordwainers - shoemakers who
made new shoes from new leather - and ushered in the first successful trade
union organizing campaign in the nation. Other trades would soon follow.
The protections and benefits won by the Labor Movement for America’s workers are numerous:
• Ended child labor
• Higher wages
• Overtime pay
• Safer working conditions
• 40-hour workweeks
• Weekends off
• Healthcare benefits
• Unemployment benefits
• Worker compensation
• Established minimum wage
• Paid vacation
• Paid holidays
• Breaks, including lunch
• Family Medical Leave Act
• Paid sick leave
• Military leave
• Greater bargaining power
• Greater diversity in the workforce
It’s gratifying to know that unionism is back in favor. Recent national polls reveal the highest public approval ratings of unions since 1965. The bargaining power of unions in 2023 also remains strong. Witness the Teamsters recent and significant win in its lengthy contractual stand-off with United Parcel Service (UPS).
The Labor Movement also has been a champion for the advancement and fair treatment of minorities and women in the American workforce. Unions successfully fought for the passage of federal civil rights legislation. Way back in 1912, while organizing the still-emerging telephone industry, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers predominantly accepted female telephone operators into the union. Today, IBEW Local 98 proudly participates in “Rosie’s Girls,” a female apprentice recruitment program which is offered tuition-free to all accepted female pre-apprenticeship trainees. Students learn about employment opportunities and career pathways in the IBEW.
America’s union workers built this great nation and will be the ones to rebuild our aging national infrastructure. In addition, as you now know, the Labor Movement successfully fought for many protections and benefits for all Americans in every walk of life. So, while you’re enjoying the upcoming three-day Labor Day weekend, remember these gifts and tip a hard hat to a union worker.