Labor Day tells us that school has started, the summer is winding down, and the seasons will soon be changing. For us in the labor movement, it is also an opportunity to reflect on the only federal holiday to recognize workers and their efforts. As exciting as it is to celebrate labor and our accomplishments of the past year, we must also recognize the herculean efforts adversaries go through to stop us.
Nationally, it feels that for every two steps forward taken by the labor movement, the Courts and management attempt to push us three steps back. The Supreme Court ruling earlier this year in Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, along with previous rulings in Epic Systems Corp v. Lewis, and Cedar Point Nursery et al. v. Hassid et al. demonstrate the difficulty and hostility unions and organizers have in trying to counter management on behalf of workers. This says nothing of the infamous Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 decision five years ago that sought to wipe out public employee unions. Nevertheless, we are still here and continuing the fight for public employees across the state of Maryland.
Recent Supreme Court decisions aside, there is cause for hope among workers both nationally and here in Maryland. Nationally, organizing and unionization are on the rise as everyone from Starbucks workers, to Amazon warehouse workers, to even knights and squires at Medieval Times have unionized, and countless more workers would join unions if they could.
Locally, over the past year we celebrated the faculty and staff at the Maryland School for the Deaf voting to unionize with the fundamental belief that as partners in the decision-making of the institution, they can help make the Maryland School for the Deaf a better, more diverse, and more inclusive place to work and learn.
While there is much work ahead of us, we can look at our victories and believe in the possibilities of labor power. Through collective action we can ensure safe and healthy work environments for public employees, bargain and negotiate for the wages we deserve, lobby our elected officials to provide the resources needed to do our jobs and much more. This Labor Day should be a time for optimism. Labor power, despite obstacles, is on the rise and with a commitment to collective action, there’s nothing that cannot be accomplished. Workers united, can never be defeated!
Happy Labor Day!
Kenya Campbell, President