Friday, August 31, 2007

A Labor Day Message from General President James P. Hoffa

This Monday, we pay tribute to the millions of hardworking men and women who make our world better and keep our country vital. The recognition is well-deserved, although a single day hardly seems adequate to address the contributions of workers and the generations who preceded them.

As we approach Labor Day, the American labor movement is reinvigorated and working for profoundly important things: the continued existence of the middle class and our national safety. I’m proud that the 1.4 million members of the Teamsters Union are at the forefront of this effort.

Our most immediate struggle is taking place now, as we face an immediate threat to our country’s well-being, courtesy of big business and the very person who should be protecting our safety. Despite overwhelming bipartisan congressional opposition and in defiance of public opinion, President Bush and his administration are trying to sidestep safety regulations in his ill-planned effort to open our highways to Mexican trucks. Of all weekends to recklessly open our highways to dangerous trucks, the president chose one of the busiest of the year — what a slap in the face to all Americans!

Safety is one of the key reasons — along with wages and benefits, and retirement security — that thousands of school bus drivers, logistics workers, airline workers, public service employees and sanitation workers have voted to become Teamsters Union members in the past year. As we have focused our organizing efforts on key industries, such as transportation, logistics and public services, more and more workers are able to secure fair compensation for them and their families, as well as improved treatment and safer conditions at work.

But we can and must do more.

I urge you to support political plans that are in the best interests of all Americans. You can make a difference by meeting workers in organizing drives; attending rallies; urging politicians to support issues such as fair trade and universal health care; voting for pro-labor candidates; and by becoming a member of DRIVE, our powerful political action committee.

While some politicians seem to think that handing hot dogs to workers and making a nice speech at a picnic will take care of labor issues for another year, we must remind them why Labor Day was established 113 years ago to ensure that the knowledge of labor’s great contributions to society lives on.

This is one reason we have joined with the Netroots, to raise our issues and public awareness for labor among a new generation of online activists and workers. Join the discussions, the online blogging communities in your states and hometowns and talk about your union. Be proud of the century-old Teamster legacy, and tell others what it means to be in a union — solidarity, democracy, respect. Because if we don't educate the public, no one will.

We must maintain respect for those willing to work with their hands, put in an honest day’s work and take pride in a craft or a job well done. It has always been laborers who were the first to stand up against injustice. Doing so, too many workers lost their lives to gain the rights and benefits that enable workers to support themselves and their families today.

On this Labor Day, I ask you for your continued support and involvement as we build support for working Americans.

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