Unions fight for us all

Labor Day is upon us, with parties and parades. This year, we celebrate the proud history of our American Labor movement. Mother Jones advised, “Mourn the dead, and fight like hell for the living!” 

We at the Western Colorado Trades and Labor Assembly intend to do both. We hope to educate others about the roots of Labor Day, to understand why we have so much to celebrate – and so much to fight for. 

The long weekend we’re celebrating was paid for by the blood of striking workers. In 1894, it was common for employees to work 12 or more hours per day, seven days a week. Despite early child labor laws, children as young as 5 still worked in mines, mills and factories. When the American Railroad Union called for a nationwide boycott of Pullman cars, President Grover Cleveland called in 12,000 federal troops to break the strike. Resulting riots led to the deaths of dozens of workers. In 1894, Labor Day was created to heal the breach between the government and the American worker.

As we mourn our fallen, we see a dawning hope in the rise of unionism in our country. New unions are organized daily, and union membership is on the rise. This generation of workers understands union membership is a pathway to a solid career, great benefits and a living wage. Unions fight for ALL of us and create safe workplaces where workers are treated with respect. We will always fight for workers’ rights. 

The Western Colorado Trades and Labor Assembly would like to welcome all Western Slope unionists to join our organization, to strengthen the Labor movement in Colorado. For more information, please contact manderson@coaflcio.org

Wishing you a safe and happy Labor Day – from our family to yours. 

– Molly J. Anderson, Affiliate Union & Allies Organizer, Colorado AFL-CIO