10/04/2018 - (This article first appeared in the September/October 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Organization Director Anna Smith
We all have heard of human rights and we all have those rights. But, did you know that labor rights are human rights?
What do I mean by that? Well, let me give an example and begin with the “right to an education.” Public education is far too often taken for granted by Americans. Sadly, only in the last century is it normal for children go to school and learn reading, writing and basic mathematics. This is all because of the work of worker unions in the late 1800s and early 1900s to end child labor. Once young children were no longer going to work in places like the clothing mills or mines, the need for elementary and high schools emerged. Unions then fought for those schools to be public, and not owned by a religious group or a company (in the cases of “company towns”).
Workers fought for free public education. We succeeded in helping secure the right of every American to have a K-12 education. We still are fighting for that same right to a free collegiate education. Labor unions fought for human rights to be protected by law. We constantly fight to give true meaning to the phrase “dignity and respect.” We fought for, and continue to fight, to maintain basic freedoms like thought, speech, press, religion, assembly and especially our right to petition our government to correct the wrongs we face.