Labor Day is Sept. 7. American labor unions were instrumental in the following modern societal benefits. Most take them for granted these days, but we shouldn't because they are shrinking.
• Five day, 40-hour workweek.
• Minimum wage (originally meant to be a basic living wage).
• Social Security for retired and disabled workers.
• Retiree pensions (becoming less common).
• Equal rights for minority and women workers.
• Overtime and holiday pay.
• Child labor laws.
• Unemployment insurance.
• Workers compensation and rehabilitation for those hurt on the job.
• Middle class.
• Worker health and safety standards.
• Paid sick leave.
• Due process.
• Job security.
• Severance pay.
• Grievance procedures.
• Family and medical leave.
• Adequate supply of quality talent for the workforce.
Basic workers' rights benefit all Americans, union and non-union, employer and worker. As these benefits have been eroding for the 30 years or so, we should remember where they came from — collective bargaining, won with decades of sometimes bloody struggle.
Labor Day was set aside to honor and celebrate the American worker. Can we resolve to do better going forward?
Joan Ratzlaff (Salina Area Workers Coalition), Salina