As we look forward to celebrating Labor Day, I want to say thank you for your work and celebrate recent accomplishments that will affect our union and your career, wages and benefits in the coming years.
As you may know, in 1894, Labor Day was made a federal “holiday for the laboring classes” to recognize the contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity and well-being. From the past to the present, Laborers have led the way. There is no better example of us Feeling the Power, Being the Power and Using the Power than the past couple of years.
Thousands of good union jobs will be created as a result of new federal jobs-creating investments: the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. This spring, the Minnesota Legislature delivered historic wins for working people and is making Minnesota the best state in the country for construction workers. LIUNA led efforts to pass the largest construction jobs bill in state history, new funding for roads, bridges, transit and water infrastructure, and labor protections for solar and wind installation.
These new laws and investments have incentives and rules for labor standards—such as prevailing wages, Project Labor Agreements, and apprenticeship requirements—which will create thousands of good union jobs and careers for the next decade.
Before 1903, when LIUNA was formed, Laborers like you and I worked for pennies. They worked six days a week for 10-12 hours or until they dropped. No minimum wages. No prevailing wages. No overtime. No safety whatsoever. Despite hardships and struggles, they forged ahead to improve their lives, the lives of their brothers and sisters, and their families. Together, they united across race and ethnicity and became more powerful than their bosses who threatened and starved them. This solidarity is our shared legacy to honor and carry forward: We are stronger together.
Thank you for your dedication to building a better Minnesota with safety, skill, and quality. A career in the Trades is tough, and I appreciate and recognize the professionalism and commitment that Laborers consistently bring to the job and the sacrifices you make to get the job done. If you are retired, I hope you are enjoying your well-earned retirement and I thank you for building the foundation that we active Laborers work to build upon for future generations.
Have a safe and happy Labor Day and Feel the Power!
Joel Smith President and Business Manager LIUNA Minnesota and North Dakota