President Obama speaking before the AFL-CIO Labor Day gathering in Cincinnati, OH reminded us that all Americans have benefited from the labor movement and unions.
But today we also pause, we pause to remember, and to reflect, and to reaffirm. We remember that the rights and benefits we enjoy today weren't simply handed to America's working men and women. They had to be won. They had to be fought for by men and women of courage and conviction, from the factory floors in the industrial revolution to the shopping aisles at super stores, they stood up and they spoke up to demand a fair shake and an honest day's pay for and honest day's work.
Many risked their lives. Some gave their lives. Some made it the cause of their lives like Senator Ted Kennedy, who we remember today. So let us never forget… much of what we take for granted, the forty hour work week, the minimum wage, health insurance, paid leave, pensions, Social Security, Medicare, they all bear the union label.
It was the American worker, men and women just like you who returned from World War II to make our economy the envy of the world. It was labor that helped build the largest middle class in history. Even if you’re not a union member, every American owes something to America’s labor movement.