Skip to main content

Today is 'Blog Action Day'.  Once a year bloggers, like myself, focus their efforts to promoting one single idea.  This year the message is 'The Power of We'.  The irony is that the Power of We is a majority of what I talk about.

Unions are the epitome of people working as one.  If one man stand in opposition nobody notices. When 1000 people stand together on a strike line people notice.  People have been working together to better our working conditions, wages, and communities for over a hundred years.

It began in the mills where children were forced to work for 14 hours a day for pennies. It was labor unions who brought this to national attention.  This set the stage for legislators to craft legislation that would protect all workers.  Now we have child labor laws, OSHA regulations, and minimum wage laws.  All of these can be traced back to a labor union and labor actions.

Take for example the Bread and Roses strike of 1912.  The workers, mostly women and children,  at the textile mills in Lawrence Massachusetts walked off the job in the middle of winter to bring attention to the appalling working conditions and wages.  The were fighting for a living wage. A wage that would give them 'bread and roses too'.   Not long after the strike ended, Massachusetts became the first state in the Nation to pass child labor laws. They mandated strict policies for minimum age and maximum working hours for the thousands of children in working in Massachusetts Mills.

Another very famous example is the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire in 1911.  This is the true story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company and the 150 people who lost their lives due to completely unregulated textile industry.  The fire which started on the seventh floor, one floor below the main manufacturing floor,  quickly consumed the building.  Prior to the fire the company owners feared the women would steal fabric from the factory so they locked all the exits except one. This way the managers could watch as workers left to make sure they were not stealing.  As the fire raged upward the workers soon found out that the doors were locked and they were trapped.  In one of the most gruesome moments in American history, women trying to escape the fire, jumped from the eight floor to their death.

After the fire, labor unions in New York City were in outrage. They blamed the factory owners for the deaths of all of these workers.  Over 100,000 people filled the streets near the burned down building demanding answers. Their outrage went right to City Hall, where legislators crafted legislation to ensure that factories had adequate working space, fire extinguishers, and emergency exits that would never be locked.

Labor Unions are still on the front lines today, fighting for the workers, and the communities they live in.  Here in New Hampshire were successfully fought back Right To Work (for less) legislation that has been proven to lower wages and increase poverty rates.  Teachers in Chicago just won an epic battle for the children of the Chicago School Districts. They fought for smaller class sizes, better quality books, and teaching materials.  Now the AFL-CIO is working to bring awareness to the American Crystal Sugar Lockout in Minnesota.  Workers at American Crystal Sugar have been locked out of their jobs for over a year now.

Workers standing together as one is the true 'POWER OF WE'!

Originally posted on the NH Labor News

Originally posted to The New Hampshire Labor News on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 01:32 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site