CFL News
September 03, 2012

Labor Day letter to the editor

In a letter to the editor published in both the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez urges America to remember the real meaning of Labor Day and to join the call for an economy that works for everyone

Labor Day is many things: The unofficial end of summer. The unofficial start of the school year. The last day to wear white.

We like to remember it for its original meaning. Labor Day was born out of the Pullman Strike, which took place right here in Chicago more than 100 years ago.

After the federal government intervened and several innocent workers and family members were killed, Labor Day was established as a day to honor the strength and spirit of the labor movement and working people.

Would today’s government be so bold as to grant a national holiday out of respect to workers and the labor movement?

America’s middle class is suffering.

Meanwhile, Wall Street CEOs are back on top, riding high and enjoying the security that came in the form of taxpayer bailouts.

Working people didn’t create the mess we’re in. But there’s no doubt they’re paying the price through layoffs, foreclosures and austerity measures that threaten vital services and public safety nets.

America’s labor movement helped established the middle class. It did so by helping workers come together to bargain collectively for a living wage, health insurance, retirement security and safety in the workplace.

Working families have paid their share. It’s not fair to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while our communities suffer. It’s not right to ask working-class taxpayers to subsidize corporations for offshoring American jobs through tax breaks.

It’s time that we build an economy that works for everyone. That’s why it’s important to remember the real meaning of Labor Day. Millions of Americans are hoping elected officials will stop playing politics with our progress and recovery.

Jorge Ramirez, president,

Chicago Federation of Labor