Today the Labor movement faces many challenges from corporate special interests, legislatures, and anti-union extremists. The attacks are not new; labor unions and the activists who nurtured and inspired our movement have been attacked for centuries, dating back to the nation’s first attempts to organize workers. The right to organize and join a union, the right to collectively bargain and have a voice at work, the right to a fair return for your labor, these workers’ rights did not come about on their own. Activists and leaders fought for and died for those rights.
This Sunday marks the 139th birthday of one of labor’s troubadours and infamous activists. Falsely accused and convicted of murder, Joe Hill (Hillstrom) was executed in Salt Lake City, Utah on November 19, 1915. A Swedish Immigrant who arrived in New York in 1902, he traveled across the country organizing workers under the banner of the International Workers of the World (IWW). Prior to his execution, Hill wrote a letter to the IWW Leadership saying, “Don’t waste any time in Mourning. Organize.”
To this day, unions remain the best way to build power for workers, improve workplace conditions, and promote economic justice. Unions continue to fight for better treatment, whether through improving wages and benefits, supporting job training programs, family-friendly work environments, paid vacation, or fair scheduling. Too many workers in America today, are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers.
Too many don’t have access to the work environment they need to support their families or make ends meet. The best thing we can do to fight back and stand up for workers is to continue to organize. To organize our workplaces into strong unions. Union organizing is the most tangible form of democracy; it needs you.