Labor Day in the U.S. is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country.
Canada’s Labour Day is also celebrated on the first Monday of September. More than 80 countries celebrate International Workers’ Day on May 1, and several countries have chosen their own dates for Labour Day.
The labor movement is closely associated with labor unions, which are facing difficult times now with membership rates at historic lows. In 2016, there were 14.6 million members in the U.S., down from 17.7 million in 1983. The percentage of workers belonging to a union in the United States (or total labor union “density”) was 10.7%, compared to 20.1% in 1983. Union membership in the private sector has fallen under 7%— levels not seen since 1932. From a global perspective, the density in 2013 was 7.7% in France, 18.1% in Germany, 27.1% in Canada, and 88.9% in Iceland, which is currently highest in the world of major industrialized nations.
This trend is worrisome since all of us can thank unions for many of the benefits we now take for granted in the workplace.
Here’s a comprehensive listing of 36 benefits we now have, thanks to unions:
- All Breaks at Work, including your Lunch Breaks
- Paid Vacation
- Sick Leave
- Social Security
- Minimum Wage
- Civil Rights Act/Title VII (Prohibits Employer Discrimination)
- 8-Hour Work Day
- Overtime Pay
- Child Labor Laws
- Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
- 40 Hour Work Week
- Worker’s Compensation (Worker’s Comp)
- Unemployment Insurance
- Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations
- Employer Health Care Insurance
- Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees
- Wrongful Termination Laws
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
- Whistleblower Protection Laws
- Employee Polygraph Protect Act (Prohibits Employer from using a lie detector test on an employee)
- Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS)
- Compensation increases and Evaluations (Raises)
- Sexual Harassment Laws
- Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Holiday Pay
- Employer Dental, Life, and Vision Insurance
- Privacy Rights
- Pregnancy and Parental Leave
- Military Leave
- The Right to Strike
- Public Education for Children
- Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 (Requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work)
- Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States
I came across many other web sites that also noted all the good things we can thank unions for:
- Eight Reasons to Thank Unions
- 20 Reasons to Thank Labor Unions
- 11 Reasons to Be Thankful for Labor Unions
- Give Thanks And Support To Labor Unions Before It’s Too Late
- REPORT: Five Things Unions Have Done For All Americans
So let me offer my thanks to all those who worked hard to achieve these benefits, and to those who continue to fight for the rights of all workers.
Happy Labor Day.
*image from VeroWine