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Presidents, Unions & Cheeseheads

Kris LaGrange's picture
Feb 19, 2011

Presidents Day, celebrated on the third Monday in February, is a day where we honor the legacies of U.S. Presidents. Presidents Day was established in 1800 when Congress declared February 22nd, George Washington's birthday, a Federal holiday. We also honor Abe Lincoln, the 16th President of the U.S. who was born on February 12th. On President's Day, we honor all U.S. Presidents, including current President Barack Obama. Organized labor has always been a driving force behind electing our nations President. In the early 1800’s our founding organizations, like the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor, were forces which helped dictate the social policies of our nation’s leaders. Unions did many great things in our nation’s history with past U.S. Presidents. Loosely organized craft and trade unions in the colonies fought the British and helped our newly formed country create a wage system with the help of President John Adams. President Adams never bought a slave and declined on principle to employ slave labor. That value system was reflected with his son, future President John Quincy Adams, who while serving in Congress said that the last battle of the American Revolution would be over slave labor. Unions influenced those Massachusetts Presidents greatly. Unions helped eliminate slavery with President Abe Lincoln. Lincoln was quoted as saying that those who hate labor – hate America – a scarlet letter that most modern day Republicans are forced to carry today, whether they want to or not. Unions were the first to attack President Harding when he ordered troops to fire their guns on striking West Virginian coal miners. Unions fought for the 8 hour work day with President Woodrow Wilson and provided support to President FDR for the New Deal in the 1930’s. Organized labor supported JFK who passed the Civil Rights Laws of the 1960’s before he was murdered in a state with the nation’s lowest union density. Organized labor was extremely vocal when President Reagan busted the air traffic controllers, and those scars still haven’t healed today. After 8 years of being ignored by President George W. Bush, Unions were the driving force behind electing our nation’s first African American President and are now working with President Barack Obama to give healthcare to millions of uninsured children and making the right to organize a more fair process for the millions of working poor in our country. So on President’s Day, we pay homage and respect to those great President’s who helped guide this country in a direction where all working people are given a shot to achieve their American dream. While at the same time, we remember and never forget those Presidents who hurt working people, who fired on us, enslaved us and busted our unions. On President’s Day, organized labor vows to continue to work diligently to never let those who look to eliminate collective bargaining and hurt organized labor become President of our great country again. So if Wisconsin Governor Walker - who wants to bastardize collective bargaining and all that unions have accomplished for working people, becomes a Presidential candidate in the next election, then I guess we are all in for another history lesson. The lesson; history seems to always repeat itself. But in the Tuesday, November 6th 2012 U.S. Presidential election, we all need to choose a side. Which side are you on?

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