Saturday, September 5, 2009


Like many Americans the HUDDLER is kicking back today, and enjoying the last official weekend of summer. Where has summer gone? It was a wet one here in western Pennsylvania. Hopefully we enjoy an extended indian summer. This weekend has special meaning for the HUDDLER and a lot of trade unionists across the country. Labor day was first celebrated within the United States in 1882. (Canada had been celebrating Labour Day prior to this since the early 1870’s) The labor movement like everything else has revolved over the years. The union of today is not that same union that our father, grandfathers, and great grandfathers knew. At one time the “union” was the center of many workers lives both in the workplace, and at home. At one time most workers lived in close proximity to their places of work. Often in company owned housing. In addition it was not uncommon for entire families, and extended families to be employed in the same trade, by the same employer.Therefore when workers organized unions, they were traditionally smaller groups, and many were centered on a single employer. If a group of workers were tired of being abused by the boss, it was not difficult for workers to form a union, IF they could get avoid the hired thugs, avoid being fired for being a union “sympathizer”, many workers were also immediately evicted from their company owned homes for trying to form a union, and thousands of men and women made the ultimate sacrifice when they were killed trying to form a union. For these and many other reasons, a lot of unions were semi-secret organizations in the early years. The immigrants who came to America escaped some of the worst persecution, and working conditions prior to coming to the new country. Although, many decided to form unions because they saw America becoming a lot like the way things were back home.Fast forward a hundred or so years ahead, and witness the accomplishments and benefits of organized labor which include; the fundamental right to form a union, child labor laws, a five day/forty hours work week, paid sick time, holidays, vacation, bereavement, workers compensation, disability insurance, OSHA safety standards, health care, and the list goes on.

Still today in our great country workers fight to maintain the basic principles of organized labor, every eighteen minutes a worker is terminated for trying to form a union. At the same time, on average 395 workers witness the termination of the worker who was fired. Organized labor has been fighting for the Employee Free Choice Act. READ THE REASON WE NEED THE EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT. The HUDDLER urges all of us to call Arlen Specter at the LINK provided and remind him that we need this important legislation passed so that Americans continue to have the right to organize in the workplace.

Also remind Senator Specter that America need REAL HEALTH REFORM NOW!!! Americans can not afford the increased premiums. Health care providers must change the way they do business and offer their services, so that every American has access to quality, affordable health care, regardless of who their employer is, preexisting conditions, and the many other reasons insurers providers reject people for coverage on a daily basis. * The HUDDLER does not believe that any person should get a free ride. We all have to contribute towards our health care costs. However, no one should be denied coverage or treatment simply because they do not have the means to pay. With that being said, our government should not circumvent the Hyde act and use federal tax dollars or any tax dollars to facilitate abortions. Some view this subject as being a fundamental right of a woman to choose what she wants to do with her body. The HUDDLER believes that life is created at the moment of conception, and that the unborn child should have the same rights as the rest of us, including the right to life.
Back to Labor day...

The HUDDLER hears from time to time why unions are bad, ineffective, and just plain old suck. Despite the power grab by some large international unions, union members have to remember that the power of unions lie within the membership. If you are a union member, and things are not going well at work? The first step if for you and your co-workers to be active in the union. If you have an active shop you have the ability to hold the elected leaders of your union accountable. The HUDDLER is surprised how many union workplaces no longer have a shop steward. Perhaps with the extra duties placed on workers, (second jobs, increased responsibilities at home, single parent families, caring for elderly relatives) workers no longer have the time to attend union meetings, and be active. The HUDDLER's first term as a shop steward was because no one else wanted to be the steward. The HUDDLER often tells ordinary citizens who do not participate in the electoral process, they do not have the right to complain. Every union member has the right to elect their leaders, including the shop steward, and other elected local union officials. If they fail to participate who's fault is it? The founding brothers, and sisters of organized labor overcame great odds, to bring fundamental changes to the work place. Today the unorganized have to stand up and fight like our ancestors. If you are unhappy with your union at work? Stand up for change!!

The one thing we all need remember is that unions benefit each of us, including those who do not have a union. The wages and benefits we all receive are due to union members standing up and fighting for what is right. On this Labor day the HUDDLER urges each of us, union or non, and our elected officials, to remember the words of Mother Jones and "pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living".

The HUDDLER wishes everyone a happy Labor day, and will be saying a special Rosary for all workers whether union or non-union, and especially for all of those who are unemployed, may they find work and be paid a livable wage, with quality affordable health care.

No comments: