As the sun rose on Labor Day, a group of Union leaders, staff and family members gathered around the flag pole in front of our Union headquarters in Roseville.
We came to participate in an American ritual.
We saluted the flag of our country as it rose to meet the brightening sky.
In doing so, we also saluted the American worker.
It’s unfortunate how America’s history books have been edited to exclude the role of working men and women in making the nation great. One assumes this was done to allow more room for the presidents, generals and industrialists who “led” us to our national destiny.
But I can’t help thinking about the tradesmen who were cut down by Redcoat bullets in the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the Midwestern farm boys who died at Antietam, Shiloh and Gettysburg to cleanse our land of the stain of slavery.
Let’s not neglect the striking miners who battled Pinkerton agents sent to crush their hopes for a better life or the brave suffragettes and garment workers who marched for fairness and dignity.
In American history, it is often the working people who lead the “leaders” in building a better society.
Indeed, Union members literally built our country, paving the roads and constructing the buildings in which we live and work. The story of America’s progress has many chapters to go, and working people are still writing the pages through their Union Movement. As a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers, you are helping write those pages.
We don’t have to go back far to see the contributions Labor has made to modern living standards.
This September, President Obama — at the urging of Unions — ordered all companies doing business with the federal government to provide paid sick leave to their employees.
In California, a new law protects grocery workers from being laid off just because their store was sold to another company (see story on page 5). This landmark law was enacted after the UFCW launched an intensive lobbying blitz in Sacramento.
Last year, UFCW 8-Golden State scored an important victory for Unions across the country when the United States Supreme Court upheld the rights ` of Union pickets on private property in California.
Strong new contracts with Safeway, Vons and Rite Aid
Not all of the battles were fought in the courts and Capitols in Sacramento and Washington.
This fall, our Northern California members at Safeway and Vons ratified a great new contract made possible by their Union Solidarity.
Members of UFCW 8-Golden State also made modern history when we stood in solidarity with our fellow UFCW Unions in Northern and Southern California to win strong new con tracts with Rite Aid.
The message of America’s Labor Movement is heard loud and clear in the stores, plants, distilleries and offices where our members work.
It is the message of Union Solidarity.
Solidarity has been the key to our success in winning better lives for ourselves, and it will be the key to protecting the gains we have made, now and in the future.