Air Traffic Controllers Strike

Labor Day: A Reminder That Democrats Are Pro Labor Rights, Republicans Always Opposed!

Today is Labor Day, a day to celebrate organized labor and workers, and their contributions to America past and present!

Celebrating Labor Day began in the 1880s as millions of workers, many immigrant or people of color, were exploited by corporations, who did not care about their health, safety, or having a decent standard of living!

It was not until the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s that workers finally had a federal government that promoted recognition of labor unions by the National Labor Relations Act (1935), also known as the Wagner Act, and establishment of basic labor conditions, such as outlawing child labor, and setting minimum wage and maximum hours, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938).

Sadly, in the Southern states, dominated by Racist Democrats and now by Republicans, so called “Right To Work” laws, which limited labor rights, became and has remained normal, so the battle for labor to organize and bargain remains a struggle in such states, including some in the Midwest and Mountain States, as well.

Labor Unions declined after Ronald Reagan fired Air Traffic Controllers in 1981, but labor is reviving in the present economic climate to some extent.

But the important point to remember is that it is conservatives and Republicans who have never been supporters of organized labor and basic worker rights, but rather the Democratic Party outside of the South!

The Plight Of Organized Labor From The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Of 1911 To Wisconsin In 2011

One hundred years ago, on March 25, 1911, 146 workers, mostly female, were killed in the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in New York City, spurring the beginning of labor reforms.

Promotion of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and other unions moved ahead after this tragedy, and finally, in the 1930s under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, organized labor finally received recognition as an equal in collective bargaining.

By the 1960s and 1970s, about one third of all workers were in labor unions, and the middle class grew in size and prosperity as never before.

But starting with the 1981 Air Traffic Controllers Strike under President Ronald Reagan, where all the strikers were fired, leaving the nation in a dangerous, reckless situation regarding air safety, unions rapidly declined, and now are as low as 6-9 percent of the population, much of it public workers unions. Many states have become “right to work” states, or states that have worked against unionization, particularly in the South and Mountain West.

Now Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio, Chris Christie in New Jersey, Rick Scott in Florida, and other Republican Governors are declaring war on public service unions, and this may be the turning point where the collective bargaining rights of 1935 are lost in 2011 and beyond, and just on the centennial of the horrible tragedy of the Triangle fire coming up in a few weeks.

Before that complete collapse of labor rights occurs, one can watch a documentary on PBS on Monday night, relating the terrible events of the Triangle Fire, and that event’s centennial should make us reflect on how far we have come and how far backward we seem to be headed!

Have we learned from history, or are we again ignoring history in the name of “bully” Governors who speak for the Koch Brothers and other extremely wealthy corporate interests, who do not give a damn about the rest of America in their mad dash to obscene profits and greed?