Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated in the United States on September 5, 1882 in New York City. The purpose was to acknowledge and honor the social and economic achievements of American workers and to recognize their contributions to the strength and well-being of our country.
Organized labor has a long and glorious history in the United States.  Our cities, infrastructure, industries and agriculture all owe their very existence to the accomplishments of the working men and women who came before us.  Today our Union brothers and sisters work in many of the private, public, state and federal sectors providing services to our citizens.  We owe a debt of gratitude to those who manufacture the technology and weapons the military uses to protect our nation, to those who harvest much of the food we put on our tables every day, to the cop on the corner or the fireman down the block, and to the millions of workers in this country performing the work that gets done every day.  The efforts of us all are what make this country strong, safe and great.
Many of the benefits afforded working men and women today – the 40 hour workweek, overtime, paid holidays, and accrual of sick leave and vacation leave, for example – are the direct result of earlier efforts of organized labor to better the working conditions of all American workers.  Additionally, through their efforts as volunteer EMTs, little league coaches, school board members, Boy/Girl Scout leaders, and all of the other duties  and services they perform, the labor movement gives back to communities in which they live and work.  Our collective generosity and giving contribute to the well-being and vibrancy of society.
As we reflect on all that we have accomplished and have yet to accomplish, let us give thanks to and celebrate those in whose footsteps we follow.  We truly stand on the shoulders of giants.  Ours is a story of solidarity and coming together to fight injustice in the workplace.  Let us recommit to keeping that story alive and well.
Thank you for all you do.
William R. Dougan
NFFE National President