Happy Labor Day!
Happy Labor Day to all Tennesseans!
As we observe the unofficial end-of-summer, we are also given another annual opportunity to recognize the American labor movement and all that it has accomplished for working families over the course of the last century.
This year, however, marks a critical time for many of those gains that can easily be taken for granted.
Every day, it often feels like workers’ rights are taking yet another hit.
From the U.S. Department of Labor choosing not to move forward with a higher salary limit for overtime eligibility, to a billion-dollar corporation shipping hundreds of jobs overseas, many workers often feel like they are constantly drawing the short end of the stick while their employers and CEO’s of major companies simply get richer.
In the right-to-work state of Tennessee, we face our own struggles.
Some of the roadblocks that working families encounter on the quest for a better life are constructed by our very own lawmakers.
For example, there have been several attempts over the past few years to pass legislation that would gradually increase Tennessee’s minimum wage over a period of time.
Whether the goal was to raise the minimum wage to $15 or even just $10.10 an hour, the motivation was the same: ensure that all Tennesseans are paid a living wage for their hard work that allows them to provide for their families without worrying about making ends meet.
If these bills were fortunate enough to at least be heard in committee, they typically lived a very short life before being promptly voted down at the urging of groups like the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the Chamber of Commerce.
These organizations consistently argue that raising the minimum wage would create an unfair financial burden on employers and businesses.
However, the current CEO-to-worker pay ratio of 347 to 1 doesn’t exactly fall in line with that argument.
This is just one of the many uphill battles confronted by working families in Tennessee.
In spite of the disappointment that we’ve experienced in recent years, the labor movement is committed to fighting even harder.
We’re focused on helping to elect candidates who are willing to stand up and be a strong voice for workers.
We’re focused on ensuring that all Tennesseans receive equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex.
We’re focused on educating our members to the best of our ability, because knowledge is power.
Most importantly, we’re focused on making life better for working families in Tennessee.
On this Labor Day, we reflect on the challenges that we’ve faced while looking ahead to the future.
As a proud union member for over 45 years, the labor movement has played an incredibly vital role in my life and holds a special place in my heart.
Today and every day, I am grateful for the countless opportunities that it has provided me with for decades.
It is my hope that our future leaders will be able to share the same feelings.
As you enjoy the holiday, I ask that you take a moment to reflect on everything that the labor movement has accomplished, including the ability to have a day like today off from work!
If you are working, we cannot thank you enough for all that you do.
Happy Labor Day from all of us at the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council.