John F. Penn
The American labor movement has a long history of fighting for the rights of not only union members, but for all workers. The eight-hour workday, safer work conditions and the elimination of child labor are just a few of the rights we take for granted that were gained through the sweat and blood of rank and file union members over the last century.
Unions are still on the front line fighting for the rights of all Americans in a battle between what's best for corporate America and what's right for all of us. Passing universal health care is an issue that will not only transform the lives of millions but will be remembered as the moment when this country lived up to its ideal of equality and declared that access to health care is a right for all of its citizens, not just for those who can afford it.
If not now, when?
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.