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Message from Dennis Martire: Labor Day is More Than a Picnic


Labor Day is More Than a Picnic

Labor Day is more than a picnic - it commemorates the struggles, sacrifices, sweat and blood in the battle of the American working class to win a measure of respect and economic security. The holiday is a time to take measure of our progress.

For working people in LIUNA’s Mid-Atlantic Region – from Pennsylvania to West Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and North Carolina – this Labor Day finds us making significant gains, yet still facing daunting challenges.

For many of our local unions, unemployment is low, with steady work opportunities. The natural gas industry is booming, sustaining plentiful pipeline jobs building the energy infrastructure that provides clean, affordable fuel. Our superior district council and local union leadership continues to provide contractors with the most skilled and efficient workforce in the construction industry, while providing public service workers the voice they need on the job.

At the regional level, we have embarked on major initiatives to strengthen and grow our union. Through Levanta Tu Voz – Raise Your Voice – we are reaching out like never before to organize a new generation of construction laborers in our nation’s Capitol Region with an intensive advertising campaign paired with face-to-face outreach in workers’ communities. And our billboard and radio ads featuring the voices and faces of natural gas pipeliners is reaching an audience ranging from governors to our neighbors with a message about the importance of energy work in lifting up families. We are signing new contractors and helping men and women ranging from warehouse workers to Arlington National Cemetery groundskeepers unite in a union with LIUNA.

Yet, the attacks on the American middle-class way of life continue. Too many politicians peddle an assault on prevailing wages and project labor agreements, threatening our economic security. Efforts to continue to expand the poison of so-called “right to work” continue. For those in some industries, such as coal, economic shifts threaten livelihoods. Others, such as those in natural gas, face unrelenting attacks from environmentalists and utopian academics who don’t know, and don’t value, the virtue of honest work. And one of the most pressing needs of our region and our nation – rebuilding our crumbling, critical infrastructure – remains unaddressed, with a federal government that can’t seem to get off the dime and take care of the things working families rely upon every day.

In the coming year, each of us must rededicate ourselves to our work, to strengthening and growing our union, and to forcing our government to truly be our government, not that of special interests.

Since Labor Day was inaugurated more than a hundred years ago, there have been victories and setbacks for the working men and women who build our cities, states and nation. There always have been and there always will be. But so long as we don’t relent in our pursuit to make sure working families get what they deserve, there can be no failures – only temporary setbacks that in time will be victories.

To each and every LIUNA member in the Mid-Atlantic Region, here’s to a meaningful Labor Day 2017 – and an unwavering march forward toward better jobs, family-sustaining wages and benefits for every member and all working people.