August 31, 2013
By Vincent Alvarez
New York City has a rich Labor tradition. Movements originate, and change is created right here. This and every Labor Day, workers around the world can look to New York City as the standard for fair pay and wages. And we pay tribute to the hardworking men and women who keep our city running.
This has been a turbulent year for working people across the country. Here in New York, workers are fighting for increased safety regulations at construction sites, and fair wages and benefits for the workers who provide vital care services for our city’s aged and infirm. And as local schools prepare to open their doors for students, teachers and other municipal employees are still without a valid contract.
Despite these challenges we have continued to make strides for workers, from the “carwasheros” who have signed union contracts to the fast food workers who want fair wages and the right to organize. In addition to these organizing efforts, labor is making a united effort to elect candidates who will make sure working men and women get the wages and benefits they need to make ends meet. We understand that attacks on labor hurt working people and their families. It is up to all of us to stand up and support candidates who will fight for working New Yorkers.
Because this year’s elections will make major changes to our political landscape, union members have been hitting the streets to support candidates we believe will deal fairly and creatively with working people and their union leaders. We are doing this to ensure that labor and union members have a true seat at the table.
While opinions may differ on who will be the best new mayor, New York City labor has made 49 unified endorsements in city races. These endorsements signify a cohesive labor movement, committed to supporting the candidates who will pass budgets and policies, aimed at protecting the rights of all working people.
It’s about time all working people got a say in the political process. Our efforts this Labor Day are utilizing the strength and resources of workers for the benefit of workers. That’s the difference between Labor’s efforts, and the pro-big business PACs, accepting exorbitant amounts of money from corporations seeking even greater influence in city politics than they have enjoyed over the last 12 years.
We know what it takes to get by in New York City. And we will continue to stand up for the men and women whose hard work and determination keep this city going. As Americans, and as New Yorkers, we must invest in our future.
Vincent Alvarez is president of the New York City Central Labor Council,AFL-CIO, which represents over 300 unions, and 1.3 million workers throughout the City’s five boroughs.