Labor Day 2020

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This is a Labor Day like no other. Our nation is in the midst of three major crises—the United States has now had more than 6 million COVID-19 cases; our economy shows increasing signs of weakness when it comes to working folks and Main Street, even though Wall Street just had its best month in 30 years; and racial injustice still plagues our country’s soul.

It’s been America’s workers who have been on the frontlines confronting these crises. And workers’ unions, like the AFT and others, have been supporting workers every step of the way. Nurses and health professionals continue to put their lives on the line to save others and keep families safe, while fighting for the personal protective equipment and federal health response we need. Educators, who last spring—basically overnight—moved to remote learning and made sure their students still got the meals and supports they needed, are now fighting to ensure schools reopen safely for their students and themselves. Grocery workers are keeping communities fed. Emergency workers and public employees are keeping communities running. There are countless examples of workers going above and beyond in service to their communities and to help their neighbors, patients and students. And, sadly, many of these frontline workers have lost their lives while fighting to keep others safe.

Thank you for your persistence and perseverance. Thank you for caring, fighting, showing up…and, this November, voting.

It has always been working people acting collectively who create change—on the streets and at the ballot box. It’s always been the labor movement that fights for workers and communities and for a better life for all. From securing safety standards and workers’ rights following the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, and fighting for better conditions for meatpackers a century ago, to today’s fights for PPE, the safe reopening of schools, critical funding for schools and essential services, and justice and fairness for all, we continue to demonstrate that we can achieve together what would be impossible to achieve on our own. The American people understand the importance of labor unions in this moment. Support for unions, according to Gallup’s annual survey, hit 65 percent this year, the highest it has been since 2003. Everyone should have the right to the voice that a union provides.

Never has that collective power been more important. We need to confront today’s crises. We need to make sure kids can go to school safely, workers can have job security and earn a living wage, and families have decent healthcare, particularly in the midst of a pandemic. This November, we have the opportunity and obligation to secure these things and to save our democracy, as imperfect as it is, We need a more perfect union that is more just and more decent. That is not going to happen without our action.

That’s our job in the next 57 days.

Together, we’ve faced existential crisis after existential crisis, and not only have we weathered them all and survived, we have thrived. We are a thriving union today because of the work you do for those you serve, because of your activism, and because of your commitment to a more perfect nation.

Now we are in a battle for the soul of our nation, and nothing is more important than ensuring we prevail on Nov. 3. By caring, fighting, showing up and voting, we can win on Election Day and create the better life we dream of for our families and communities.

Thank you for all that you do.

Randi Weingarten,
AFT president