Today is Labor Day, which means unless you have a really shitty work situation, you are enjoying an extra twenty-four hours of You Time. You know why? Because we’re celebrating labor. That’s right; all of your right-wing Neanderthals that hate unions have unions to thank for getting today off. If it wasn’t for those “union thugs” banding together, sharing their collective resolve and strength, working conditions here in America would be no different than they are in countries where factories are still collapsing from shoddy safety guidelines being upheld.
Without a doubt organized labor has made and continually makes your life, and everyone else’s lives a million times better. Here are five things you should find your closest union thug and thank them for.
#5. Your Whole Neighborhood Not Going Up In Flames Because Your Neighbor’s House Did
In a bit of serendipity as I was preparing my coffee to come back to my desk to pen this epic entry into the annals of political humor, a fire department ambulance and four fire engines just zoomed down my street, presumably to help someone in distress. Without a doubt every single person in those emergency response vehicles, barreling down the street towards unknown danger, are in unions. Those unions allow our brave men and women who literally put themselves between us and danger to collectively bargain for the best salaries they can get. Who here wants to tell someone willing to run into a burning building to save your baby that they don’t have the right to do that?
Oh, assholes do. Assholes want to tell someone who is willing to run headlong into a burning building they don’t deserve to collectively bargain like anyone else. Then again, assholes also don’t think anyone should be allowed to collectively bargain, so there’s that.
#4. Your Kid Not Being Completely Ignorant and Selfish
Now, teachers’ unions take a lot of flak, and sometimes justifiably so, for protecting shitty teachers from being fired. The idea that every person who willingly signs up to watch our snot-nosed, selfish, hormonal, and still-maturing children off our hands as a full-time job, all the while trying to instill them with knowledge they’ll need for their entire lives are all bad people, spoiled and selfish? Well that’s just a heaping helping of unmitigated bullshit.
For what they are paid, the average teacher gives in far more than they take out. I’ve seen it firsthand myself, being privileged enough to know quite a few teachers in my life. You don’t get into teaching to become a millionaire with a big, fat pension. So when your kid comes out of seventh grade able to do algebra and with a better grasp of world history than you do, maybe you can your friend that won’t stop bitching about teachers’ pensions and tell them to get their asses in the classrooms themselves or barring that to get a big slice of “shut the fuck up” cake and eat it.
#3. Your Weekends
Not just Labor Day Weekend, but every weekend you off is the direct result of laborers coming together decades ago and demanding that they not be forced to work seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. In fact, any health and labor safety rule on the books today is directly attributable to people banding together and refusing to treat their time and hard work as disposable, even if their employers did at the time.
#2. Getting Paid When You’re Out “Sick” From Work
Paid sick time? If you think about that, why should an employer have to pay you for time you’re not working? After all, he or she isn’t getting the benefit of your labor? Oh that’s right, because when labor unions a long time ago made the pitch for sick days they rightfully pointed out how it’s first and foremost the humane thing to do, but more importantly, paying to keep the sick members of your work force at home keeps your healthy laborers from getting sick too. Gee, it’s almost like there’s a solid logical reasoning behind this stuff and it’s not just communist propaganda!
#1. Pretty Much Everything That Makes Your Job Suck Just a Little Less
At the end of the day, you cannot point to a single thing about your job that’s good without tying it back to the previous efforts of organized labor to level the playing field between employers and employees. 40-hour work weeks, paid vacations, paid sick time; the list goes on and on. You may say “What have unions done for me lately?” But the reality is that what they did for you almost a hundred years ago is still relevant, and most importantly — unions are still ostensibly there to protect those improvements they fought so hard for. So the next time you think to yourself, “My job sucks, but it would suck a lot more if I didn’t get weekends off,” thank your local union thug for that.
Follow James on Twitter @JamboSchlarmbo.