In case you missed it in Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, here is a Labor Day message by Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt.
This Labor Day, we recognize the working people who keep Wisconsin and America strong. That's pretty much all of us, whether we're employed or looking for work.
We are proud, we are patriotic and we believe that if you work hard and play by rules, you get ahead. We believe in an America where all workers are treated with respect and dignity.
The teacher's classroom is wired by the electrician, whose car is serviced by the mechanic, whose home is protected by the firefighter, whose kids are treated by the nurse, who works in the hospital built by ironworkers and laborers, who drive on streets patrolled by police and kept clean by sanitation workers. And on it goes - a dynamic, interdependent system that forms the bedrock of American society, the middle class.
This system rests on hard-won rights brought to us by America's union movement. When workers have the right to organize, wages and safety standards are raised for everyone in our community, strengthening the middle class. That means we all win, because the real job creators in our society are working families whose demand for goods and services drives our economy.
On Labor Day, we reflect on the workplace standards set by America's union movement. The weekend, the eight-hour workday, safe working conditions, maternity leave and for many of us - but still not all - vacation days, paid sick leave and a livable wage.
The union movement built the middle class. Today, we remain a vital institution to provide checks on corporate power and greed.
In Wisconsin and across our nation, workers' rights are under assault by politicians who call for ever-greater tax cuts for the rich, paid for by gutting programs that support our most vulnerable citizens. These politicians want to take our country in a different direction altogether.
In the vision advanced by the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan and Wall Street-driven politicians, the rules are rigged. They get ahead by gaming the system, regardless of the consequences for the rest of us. They reward companies that send jobs overseas with tax cuts and incentives.
They extend the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans and force the middle class to pick up the tab by ending Medicare and Social Security as we know it. They cut education, infrastructure and other basic services for American families. They lay off teachers and firefighters. They accelerate the vicious cycle of downgraded jobs and lower wages, which produced roaring inequality and crashed our economy in 2008.
Never has there been a starker contrast between two competing visions for our country's future. The choice between building a ladder to the middle class for all of us and a secret staircase to wealth for Wall Street and the 1%.
As we celebrate Labor Day, let's take a moment to reflect on who we are as a people and what's at stake. America prospers when the contributions of working people who are the pulse of our economy are recognized, respected and rewarded.
America prospers when workers enjoy basic rights: the right to full employment, the right to organize to have a voice at work, the right to full participation in the electoral process, a quality education and a secure and healthy future.