Labor Day 2014
By Dennis R. Pierce
BLET National President
CLEVELAND, August 29 — Labor Day is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It is an annual national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our nation.
Since our founding on May 8, 1863, members of our Brotherhood have fought, and died, to secure the contracts and protections that we enjoy today. We continue to fight for these rights today, just has we have done for more than 151 years. I am proud of the BLET’s role in this struggle. We know that without organization there is no strength, and that the strength of the labor movement comes from the active participation of the rank-and-file members. This is one of the most important things to remember on Labor Day.
When our Brotherhood was founded over 151 years ago, members were forced to meet in secrecy because they feared retaliation by the railroad bosses. They were involved in a great struggle, not only for the rights of railroaders, but for the rights of all workers. As North America’s oldest labor organization, we have been on the front lines of many major labor struggles. On Labor Day, we commemorate those struggles of the past and the fights that are still ongoing.
Many facets of American life that we have come to regard as inalienable rights were fought for and won by our brothers and sisters who came before us. Unions helped to bring weekends to America and put an end to the abuse of child labor. Things like unemployment insurance, worker compensation, the eight-hour work day, paid holidays, and many other benefits are the result of the hard work and the bloodshed of workers of past generations.
In many ways, our society has changed for the better since our forefathers initiated great social chance in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, the BLET focuses on a well-educated membership to maintain our rights, our benefits, and our contracts. Our new state-of-the-art Training Center in Cleveland is a testament to our commitment to the membership and preserving our way of life. It is my firm belief that our Training Center will help to educate our members and keep up the fight throughout the 21st Century and into the 22nd Century. But we will need to use our resources to the maximum — and to deepen the struggle — in order to preserve what we have today, and to achieve even more for those who will follow us.
Speaking on behalf of the entire BLET Advisory Board, it is an honor and a privilege to serve the membership of North America’s oldest labor union. On this Labor Day, I ask that you reflect upon all that you have and what your union has helped build for you over the years.
On behalf of the Advisory Board, I wish you all a happy and healthy Labor Day.
Friday, August 29, 2014
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