Monday, September 2, 2013

Let's Put the LABOR Back In Labor Day

My grandmother, after she orchestrated saving her family from the Nazis and moved to Kansas City, was a proud member of the International Ladies' Garment Workers" Union.  She sewed sleeves on coats for many years at a local coat maker, Nellie Don.  Because of her union affiliation, she was able to bring her family and her out of poverty and lead a good life in America.  There are few garment manufacturers left with facilities in the United States.  Somewhere, maybe in Bangladesh, there are workers sewing sleeves for less than a dollar a day so Americans can be cheap clothes.  The cost in human livelihoods and what is done to foreign workers is not worth the few dollars that we as consumers save.

We have another crisis here in the U.S.  Servers in the fast food industry work long, hard days, but do not earn enough to be free of government assistance.  So, while we get cheap, unhealthy food, we as tax payers have to supplement the abysmal pay of these workers with food stamps and Medicaid.  While McDonald's and Wendy's make a profit off the backs of these underpaid workers, we as taxpayers have to help the workers feed their families.  What is wrong with this picture?  

We need more protection for our workers.  Workers in this country need to make a living wage.  We have witnessed the demise of labor unions.  Around now, it sure would be nice to have someone organize these workers and let them support their families in dignity.  Sure, a happy meal might cost a dollar more, but the workers are worth it.

I avoid shopping at Wal-Mart because I have seen what they have done to some of their workers.  The same goes for Family Dollar.  The livelihood of our nation's workers and the well-being of their families is more important than a meager savings on cheap products.  These mega businesses are about the bottom line, profit.  Unfortunately, it looks like profit is more important than people.  

We need a resurgence in union membership during these tough economic times.  The corporations are getting richer and their workers are getting poorer.  We need to pass a minimum wage that is livable.  It is not all right for people who work hard to still have to grapple with crippling poverty.  

Paying workers a living wage is just the right thing to do, pure and simple.

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