Labor unions anchor the commitment to bargain for the common good.
CHICAGO, September 2, 2019—CTU President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement today to mark Labor Day:
Today we honor the working women and men who literally built this nation—the workers who anchor Chicago and the country with their labor and their livelihoods, yet who still are denied the fruits of that labor.
The labor that jump-started wealth in this nation was robbed, extorted and stolen from African people brought to these shores in bondage. But exploitation is an institution blind to the artifice of race, and both this continent’s indigenous people and wave after wave of immigrants to the United States have known the misery of exploitation. These are the very workers, from miners and seamstresses to railroad porters and steelworkers, who built a labor movement that continues to fight for living wages, basic rights and dignity for all.
We live in one of the wealthiest cities in the wealthiest nation in the world. Yet the gulf between the haves and the have-nots in Chicago and across the nation is growing. Income inequality is as high as it has ever been, while the relentless push to corporate profits undercuts the dignity of working people and literally undermines the health of our planet. In some of our neighborhoods, the fight is not just for living wages but for the very right to work and contribute to our society.
Today’s working class—from fast food workers and home health care providers to janitors and teachers—is organizing a better and more vibrant path forward. That movement is built on the mutual aid and cooperation of workers who come together, in unity, to demand better. This movement recognizes the intrinsic value in every worker—and every person who aspires to work with dignity. This movement demands respect for the ordinary Americans who seek the right to work and live with dignity from the fruits of their labor.
The Red for Ed movement in public education has been a cornerstone in this revived American labor movement. Teachers and school support staff—from the janitors who clean our schools to the school clerks who keep our buildings running—serve the children who are the promise and the hope of our future. We understand that our work is bound up in the well-being of the families who rely on us and the neighborhoods that are anchored by our schools. We work for the common good—for our students, our communities and the future of our city.
The labor movement’s abiding commitment to the common good is the path to emancipation for the downtrodden, the dispossessed, and the disregarded. The struggle for the common good is the way forward to liberating the creativity and aspirations that every child carries inside her. This movement is built on solidarity and shared struggle, and the recognition of the value of every person in an age of state sanctioned intolerance—for Black and Brown people, immigrants, women and the LGBTQIA community.
Labor’s struggle for the common good, more than ever, it is the path to building a better world for us all.