There's a saying that goes: The more things change, the more they stay the same. It's true. The struggles of a century ago are alive, here and now.

The robber barons built their industrial empires on high finance and the backs of cheap labor. Their battle cry was "tax cuts and deregulation." But on the way to the bank, the industrialists ran into an immovable force -- the American labor movement.

The elimination of child labor, the eight-hour work day and safer work places are just a few of the achievements unions have won for all working people in this country. Unions created the middle class.

Today, having put our industrial base on a fast boat to China and our financial house in a mortgage crisis, the global economists are still calling for "tax cuts and deregulation" to fix our problems. They were wrong then and they're wrong now. The answer is to reinvest in America: our infrastructure, our people, our future.

"The answer is to reinvest in America: our infrastructure, our people, our future."

The Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) has launched a campaign to "Build America So America Works," an intensive and sustained effort to redirect our nation's resources to taking care of America's basics -- its roadways, bridges, dams, railways, schoolhouses and other fundamentals the country depends on every day, but which have fallen into decay, lowering quality of life and weakening our economy.

Building America will not only heal our country's infrastructure, it will also help create a healthy and sustainable economy through the creation of millions of good, family-supporting jobs. Building America will fuel this country's greatest economic engine -- its work force. Building America will rebuild the middle class.

As you celebrate this Labor Day weekend, I invite you to join with LIUNA's 58,000 members in the Midwest Region in "Building America so America Works."

John F. Penn is the LIUNA vice president and Midwest regional manager. He can be reached at troseberry@midwestlaborers.org.