By Doris Crouse-Mays
If what you earn from work makes your world go around, you have good reason to be proud this Labor Day, along with every other working person in Virginia.
Together, we are on the rise, and we should be, because our labor has created the world’s most productive economy, and we are going to change the rules of our economy so all of our families can thrive by bringing home a larger share of what we create.
Right here in Virginia, our friends and neighbors are organizing, picketing and winning a voice on the job for fair pay and good benefits. Some of us are getting involved in politics for the first time to demand our elected officials support our government and the services we want and need. We want quality public schools, safe roads and bridges and a strong future for our children and communities.
As we celebrate Labor Day, it is important to remember that we have the power to create the fair economy and just society that we want and need.
For decades, corporations have rigged the economy to work for the few at the expense of the rest of us. They have tried to destroy labor unions by enlisting their political supporters to undermine the National Labor Relations Act. The language in the NLRA is direct. Its goal is to encourage collective bargaining. Yet changes in recent decades have made it harder and harder for workers to form unions. As a result, every worker in America labors harder for less and less.
These economic injustices are serious and are deeply felt by too many of us, but we can reverse this situation. The simple truth is that as we organize a greater share of workers into unions, our economy and society will become more equal. That is why labor law reform is an urgent national necessity.
Earlier this year, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act was introduced in Congress. The PRO Act does many important things, including protecting the right to strike and banning right-to-work laws. It provides substantial relief for workers whose rights have been violated, creates a process for reaching a first contract once a union is recognized and puts in place a true deterrent, so employers think twice before violating the law.
Corporations pay union-busting consultants millions of dollars to deny workers a voice on the job. That unethical practice drives down pay and benefits for everyone. Pro-union workers are being fired for organizing to provide a better life for everybody they work with.
Employers suffer virtually no consequences for violating federal law by refusing to negotiate in good faith. It is far past time to fix the rules rigged against us. Fortunately, our rights as workers have always been won and sustained by our own desire and passion for change.
The PRO Act will help us win a fair share in the massive wealth we create. In every corner of the country, working people are embracing collective action with a fervor not seen in a very long time. Our laws need to catch up. The PRO Act must become the law of the land. We demand our elected leaders champion this bill on behalf of America’s working families.
After all, Labor Day isn’t just a holiday — it’s a reminder that when we join together, the sky’s the limit. Together, we can move Congress to pass the PRO Act for our families and our future.
Doris Crouse-Mays is president of the Virginia AFL-CIO.