Our union is our members, and on this Labor Day weekend, I couldn’t be prouder of the 1.6 million hardworking nurses, teachers, paraprofessionals, higher education faculty and public employees who work day in and day out to teach our kids, keep our families healthy and improve our communities. They deserve our thanks and our gratitude.
Even though, as we celebrate this Labor Day, the attacks on labor are unrelenting, it should go without saying that a robust American labor movement remains essential to our nation’s democracy and economy. Here’s the truth: Unions built the American middle class, and the benefits of being in a union continue to be undeniable. Union workers make an average of 30 percent more than nonunion workers; 92 percent of union workers have job-related health coverage, compared with 68 percent of nonunion workers; and union workers are more likely to have retirement security. And a new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows that a union contract significantly reduces the wage gap between men and women.
Our union has been on the forefront of advocating for great neighborhood public schools regardless of wealth or race. We have made incredible strides in turning around struggling schools and advancing our community schools agenda, and in pushing for better practices for safe patient handling and better staffing ratios for health professionals. And we will continue to press for hardworking Americans to have the right to collectively bargain so they can negotiate for the fair wages and benefits they deserve.
AFT members dedicate themselves every day to improving the lives of those they serve. We are a union that believes in creating a better future for ourselves, our families and our communities, which is why we champion fairness, democracy and economic opportunity. So on this Labor Day, thank you, sisters and brothers, for who you are, for having each other’s back and for having the community’s best interests at heart. We are our union."
Randi Weingarten is president of the American Federation of Teachers.
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