BY MARTIN KICH
I am thankful for all of those who have worked and who continue to work to promote workers’ rights and to insure that workers have some meaningful voice in their workplaces.
I am thankful to those who have worked and who continue to work to insure that workers receive fair treatment, a just and living wage, and adequate and secure health and retirement benefits.
I am thankful to those who have worked and who continue to work to insure that workplaces are safe, that working conditions are reasonable, and that harassment of any kind is not tolerated.
I am thankful to those who have worked and who continue to work to organize intimidated and vulnerable workers, especially those whose work is the most exploited.
I am thankful to those who have set and continue to set an example for the rest of us to follow–to those who have given their lives for or who have devoted their lives to the twin ideals of the labor movement: a recognition of the inherent dignity or work and the necessity of a broadly shared prosperity protected through collective bargaining.
Lastly, on the most personal level, I have the deepest gratitude to those colleagues who have sustained and who continue to sustain me as I try to make my own small contributions to this shared cause. For “the workplace” is not an abstraction. It is, instead, the place in which we spend much, if not most, of our adult lives and which defines us in ways that we largely take for granted–unless we suddenly become unemployed. The “workplace” and the “work” are largely defined by our relationships with our co-workers and, as much as anything else, provide us with a sense of community, common purpose, and self-worth.
There is, of course, much more to our lives for which we are and ought to be truly very thankful, but as the labor movement is facing some existential challenges, it seems very important to focus on what exactly has been and continues to be so persistently attacked by other interests–if only to force the question of why workers’ rights are so abhorrent to those who promote themselves as the voices and even the saviors of workers.