Labor Day: More than just a ‘day off’

When you think of Labor Day, it’s likely you’ll associate the holiday with a day off from work. While true, this holiday is much more symbolic than the end of a three-day weekend, the beginning of a four-day workweek, or a final farewell to the summer season.

In fact, Labor Day is the only day out of the 365-day year during which we champion the working men and women across America, who continue to make substantial contributions to the labor movement in our country.     

The first Labor Day was organized by the Central Labor Union in 1882 in New York City. This great idea spread among unions across the U.S. and was eventually recognized by Congress as a national holiday in 1894.

While more than 120 years have passed since Congress made this decision, the importance of Labor Day has yet to fade. In truth, it is more relevant now than it has been in most of our lifetimes, as labor unions were recently dealt a strong blow by the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFCSME decision, which rolled back laws requiring non-union government workers to pay union fees if they benefit from a union-negotiated contract.

The ruling will have a ripple effect on working-class families across Pennsylvania.   Likely many of the institutions directly affected by this ruling will see less money, members, and impact in the next few years.

It’s hard for me to comprehend this decision by the Supreme Court; labor unions created the American middle class. We have labor unions to thank for safe working conditions, fair wages, a 40-hour workweek, paid sick leave, child labor laws and secure retirements.

The impact of the Janus decision is larger than you’d expect – it also directly harms the people we depend on to protect and serve our communities, like teachers and police officers. That is unacceptable.

Let’s face it, Janus affects more than public sector unions. Its reach is much, much further than that. The Supreme Court decision will ultimately drive down everyone’s wages, has the potential to eliminate health insurance, and make workplace accidents and death more likely.

That’s something I refuse to sit back and let happen. I have, and will continue to be, an advocate for the working families of Pennsylvania.

I support labor unions; I support equal pay; and I support equal rights. It’s my honor to go to the Capitol and fight for the working class. You have my word that I will do everything in my power to get you the rights, pay, and protection you deserve.

I know the future of labor unions in America may seem bleak right now, but our fight is just beginning and I am proud to lead that fight with you. Our country was built by the hearts and dedication of the working class. We didn’t quit then, and we surely won’t quit now.