Celebrating Labor Day in Utah 2018
As summer winds down, Labor Day is often seen as one last chance for a family barbecue or a three-day weekend. This year, however, the first Monday of September carries even more significance for the labor movement and its future. All across America, workers and employees are uniting together in support of better wages, workplace safety, and greater job security. We have seen this in states where public educators united in seeking better wages and funding for public education. Additionally, voters in Missouri overwhelmingly rejected a “right to work” law supported by corporate interests, again showing that many Americans still support organized labor and the kinds of jobs, conditions, and benefits that helped shape the American middle-class.
In Utah, workplace and community safety remains a priority as the state continues to see tremendous growth. Public employees, including many of our public educators, are beginning to earn what they are owed after being asked to personally sacrifice wages for so many years. Dignity in the workplace is being restored for many Utahans as new jobs flood the state and employers begin to see the benefit of a fairly compensated employee. Jobs continue to be available and unemployment remains low. Without dedicated workers, a united labor movement, and the support of Utah’s working families, none of this could be possible.
At the same time, while so much progress is being made in Utah, workers are continuing to be bombarded by political interests seeking to divide employees, corporations that refuse to pass their increasing wealth of the resurging economy to its employees, and rising costs that are shrinking the middle class. Even in Utah, where the economy has outperformed our neighboring states, wages have remained stagnant, health care is out of reach for many of its residents, and women, on average, still earn less than their male counterparts. The challenges facing Utah’s working families reminds us that our job is not yet finished.
While we face challenges in the workplace and our communities, we also have the opportunity to change them. There is no greater way to achieve that change than at the ballot box. Every November we have the opportunity to support leaders, both locally and nationally, that represent the voice of workers. While large corporations and political interests have money and access to certain policy makers, no influence is greater than that of the American voter. Through our own passion, dedication, and desire, we can unite at the ballot box to elect leaders that reflect the needs of their actual constituents. This is especially true during this midterm election season.
The fight for better working conditions, fair wages and benefits, and greater job security remain in reach if we elect dedicated officials and support policies that strengthen the voice of Utah’s working families. This year alone we have the opportunity to support the expansion of Medicaid to cover more of Utah’s citizens. We also can cast our vote to help create a fairer elections process through an independent redistricting commission that will help shape electoral districts to better reflect their voters. This is in addition to the many candidates who are running for office and seeking to make Utah and our country a better place for its working families.
Labor Day should not only be a celebration of our achievements, but a day to celebrate the opportunities we have to shape our communities, state, and nation for working families. This year expect to see union members, their families, and community members unite to keep fighting for those rights that every American deserves in their own workplace and community.