September 1, 2023 Honoring America’s Labor Heroes- The Members
This weekend America will pause to honor Labor Day, the last fling of summer and the beginning of fall. However, those of us who belong to organized labor understand this day is much more than a day off, a family get-together, or a day to relax. Labor Day is a day to honor some of our heroes- American workers.
A recent gallop poll showed that 71% of Americans hold a favorable view of organized labor. That number is the highest number recorded since 1965, proving that our fellow citizens are seeing the benefit of unions.
The collective efforts of union members have established many things all workers enjoy, regardless of their status of belonging to a union. Some of these include:
40-hour work week
Employer-sponsored health care
Workplace safety regulations
Equal opportunity for all workers
Ironically, while public perception of unions is on the upswing, union membership is down. In 2022, union membership fell to 10.1%, with only 33% of public employees belonging to a union and only 6% of private sector employees belonging to a union. This is a troubling trend that can only be reversed by supporting organizing efforts across the country and across sectors. Victories at workplaces such as Starbucks and Amazon, prove that labor growth is possible in all workplace sectors. In the UAW we have seen huge organizing victories among higher education and casinos. The UAW is also continuing to organize new sectors. On July 18, 2023, President Lincoln’s Cottage’s staff was the first non-profit museum in Washington, D.C. to organize. The workers voted 9 - 0 in favor. We must carry those victories over to the manufacturing sector. With the transitions to electric vehicles, battery plants are springing up across the country and we must make sure those jobs are good-paying, UAW jobs.
This year has seen a lot of bargaining activity, with the much-publicized Teamsters contract at UPS. Workers there won huge financial gains. Currently, the Writers Guild of America is on strike against the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers, fighting for better wages and benefits for the writers who create the movies and TV shows we all enjoy.
This Labor Day is particularly important to UAW members, as the contracts at Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors are set to expire on September 14, 2023. Years ago, our members, active and retired at The Big Three made huge sacrifices to keep these companies afloat and now they are all very profitable. It is time our members are restored to share in the record profits these companies are making. Each contract is being negotiated by top committees, elected by the Sub-Councils for each Big Three sector. Region 8 is well represented on these top committees with Jon Jaggers, Chairperson of the Kentucky Truck Plant (KTP) Local 862 and Brandon Reisinger, Chairperson of the Louisville Assembly Plant (LAP) Local 862 being on the Ford Top Committee, Tammy Wiser, Chairperson of Salary Employees at Local 472 and Josh Fisher, Chairperson of Local 1649 on the Stellantis Top Committee and Kenny Hines, Chairperson of UAW Local 276 on the GM Top Committee. These are the people who will be working to eliminate tiers, provide wage increases, restore COLA, and post-retirement benefits for our members.
Often, we give too much credit to our leadership, when it is local union leaders and members who make the gains, all benefit from. At each local union, there are those who bargain and defend local union agreements. There are members of standing committees that work to support and encourage our members. These are the real heroes of labor, doing much of their work on their own time because they believe in the cause. When we see Community Service Committees collecting for the less fortunate in our communities that is the union in action. When Veteran’s Committees work to support America’s veterans and their families that is the union in action. When our Women’s Committees work for the rights of Women that is our union in action. When our Chaplaincy Committees council with members through trying times, that is our union in action. We should never forget these members who make our movement grow.
This Labor Day, may we never forget the real heroes of labor, those who work in their local unions and communities every day. Those are the ones who should be honored on Labor Day. On behalf of the leadership and staff of Region 8, allow me to wish every Region 8 member a Happy Labor Day. Thank you for your service, your dedication, and your solidarity as we continue to build this labor movement in America.
WHO ARE WE?
UAW Region 8 Director
This site is not an official UAW communication, nor is it intended to be. It is the personal page of UAW Region 8 Assistant Director Tim Smith and is maintained and paid for by Tim Smith. No UAW resources were used in the development of this communication. Titles are given for identification purposes only.