Unions Enforce Democracy

What is labor day? And why is it a national holiday?

Labor Day is our national holiday to celebrate the contribution that regular working people make to our country and our economy. It is also a holiday that celebrates the way We, the People democracy can deliver prosperity to many, instead of great wealth to just a few — when it works. Strong unions help make it work.

Systems That Enforce “More Stuff For A Few”

History teaches of conflict between systems set up when a few people gain power and use that power to get more stuff for themselves at the expense of the rest, and the broad masses of regular people organizing themselves to overcome those power structures that get set up to enforce these “more stuff for a few” systems.

Power structures enforcing “more stuff for a few” often come with elaborate justifications to keep people from rising up and taking back power for the people. Royalty is a system where “God said my family should be in charge, so shut up and keep quiet.” The Nazis said they should be in charge because they were the ├╝bermensch, so shut up and keep quiet. Russia had the nomenklatura, so shut up and keep quiet. Today we have “job creators,” who get most of the stuff because they already have most of the stuff, so shut up and keep quiet.

“We, the People”

This country was formed when We, the People fought that battle and won. We overthrew a system that funneled the stuff to a few at the top, and enshrined in our Constitution a declaration we want this country to forever be run for the benefit of all of us, not just a few of us.

We fought to build and maintain this democratic society so that We, the People could share the benefits.

Prosperity Is The Fruit Of Democracy

Democracy offers protections. It lets us demand good wages and safety and environmental protections. We, the People got a good share of the economic pie because those are the things people say they want when they have a say. Because Americans had a say we built up a country with good schools, good infrastructure, good courts, and we made rules that said workers had to be safe, get a minimum wage, overtime, weekends… we protected the environment, we set up Social Security and Medicare and unemployment benefits to help us through hard times. We took care of each other. This made us prosperous. A share of the prosperity for the 99% was the fruit of democracy.

Unions Enforce Democracy

But it was unions that made this possible. People on their own just do not have the ability to stand up against concentrated wealth and power, no matter how right their cause. Even with our Constitution, a few were still able to use wealth and power to grab more for themselves, keeping regular people from obtaining a fair share of the pie. So people organized themselves into labor unions, and as a united group said you give us a fair share or we stop working. This was effective in industries that depended on the labor to keep production moving.

Before unions came along to enforce democracy we didn’t get the share of the prosperity that democracy promised, after unions came along we did. Before unions we had 12 (or more)-hour workdays, seven days a week. Before unions we had low pay. Before unions we had no benefits. Before unions we certainly didn’t get vacations. Before unions we could be fired for no reason. Before unions a wealthy few were able use their wealth to pay off influence legislators and keep the rules bent in their favor. Unions organized and forced changes that brought a larger share of the pie to We, the People.

Unions enforce the concept of democracy. Yes, We, the People were supposed to be in charge. Yes, the economy was supposed to be for our benefit. Why else would We, the People allow corporations to exist in the first place? But it was unions that gave people the power to enforce that idea. People organized together and demanded that We, the People get a share of the pie, and the results grew the pie. Unions are the reason we have had a middle class at all.

The Corporate/Conservative Attack On Labor

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