Labor Rights Are Human Rights

Yes, Happy Labor Day

Should Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul all agree that we have the right to band together to fight for decent wages and benefits for working Americans and their families?

I think so.

And yet, in many parts of the US firefighters and paramedics are denied that fundamental right of association by legislators and employers who use harassment, intimidation and fear to keep us from working together.

What Are They Afraid Of?

It’s hardly a secret that union membership, and unions generally, are the weakest in the south.

It’s that plantation mentality.

They had free labor for so long that they still can’t bear the thought of paying workers a fair wage for honest work.

The best way to “keep’em down” is to deny workers the rights they need to assert equality.

The places with the least protections for workers and the weakest rights for unions have the lowest pay, by far.

Firefighter Wages and Union Rights

The farther you get away from the “keep’em down” south, the better off you are.

Firefighter wages in the south lag an average of 29% behind other US regions.

Wages are 47% less than the northeast.

And 28% less than the west.

The average southern firefighter wage, including the regional behemoth Florida, is just $36,000 while northeast pay is $53,000.

It pays to be union and to fight for union rights.

The IAFF Challenge

Speaking of the south, and in this 50th anniversary year of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, we need to acknowledge that our profession has become more diverse and we are the better for it.

If it takes an “army” to fight and win rights for working men and women, we need every soldier we can get.

Our union must be for everyone and we must respect each other in order to be effective in the battles ahead.

The struggle has always been state-by-state, province-by-province both to win and then preserve the rights of labor.

We’ve been doing it for 96 years.

Let’s do it for 96 more.

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3 Comments

  • David Barbour says:

    Thanks for reminding us that Labor Day is about more than going to Walmart, which we shouldn’t do anyway.

    David B.

  • Tom Anderson says:

    You’re not helping the cause here, brother.
    The reason our members are reluctant to join the International is because of the straight-line Democratic voting on “our” behalf, your extravagant “conventions” in paradise (like Hawaii) that we can’t afford to go to, and the lack of initiative in coming here to represent “us.”
    What you’re doing doesn’t work, but “we” need to change? “We’re” stuck on plantations? “We’re” the ones who are doing it wrong by volunteering?
    By most of “our” reckoning, you’re no different than big government and bureaucratic fat cats dictating to us.
    The change needs to come from your end, sir.

  • Firefighter Paramedic says:

    Proud to be union! IAFF Strong! I will only cross a picket line if there is someone injured or a fire on the other side. I do my best to buy from union stores and products made in the USA. To the volunteers, you are part of the problem. It’s real hard to get a decent wage when there are people trying to do your job a few towns away for free. Volunteers are good for 2 things. Keeping someone out of a job and saving basements.

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