Solidarity Sunday: Labor Day: It's About Time
Tomorrow we'll gather with family, folks, and friends to spend our well-earned time off celebrating the closing of another summer. Much has already been written about the fact that we should remember the holiday for what it truly is, the hard-fought acknowledgment of the contributions of workers to this country, and rightly so. But it shouldn't be lost on us that Labor Day is marked by time. In a country where everything seems to be a tradeable asset, time is the ultimate commodity. The American Unions brought that to our attention. At least to the working people.
While Labor Day still seems to be sacred in many communities in our country, it isn't for everyone. There will be open restaurants and stores with a working staff, and there are countless undocumented workers for whom Labor Day is no different than any other Monday. The company mission-creep that chips away at this most precious commodity grows. The more corporate marketing messages convince us that Labor Day is all about barbecues and beers, the more they can separate us from the significance of the holiday and why it started.
Employers use time as a carrot to give and take away opportunities for our members. Many CBA's now have clauses tied to an insane amount collective man-hours worked. It's not uncommon for our skilled craftspeople to work ridiculously long hours not as an 'incentive' but as a matter of course. Overtime is no longer mere motivation; it's baked into the bidding formula. And now with every advancement in technology, many of us in the labor movement worry that it is just another opportunity for ownership to increase productivity and their own profits at the expense of separating the worker from the means of production, eroding our significance, our bargaining power, and our solidarity.
There's no question that technology has helped to create a safer workplace. But there's also no question that technology is changing the workplace—as well as the worker. Technology and seismic social shifts like Covid have caused corporate America to redefine what it means to work because there is no question that we'll see more and more automation of labor.
Labor rights will have to be re-evaluated and redefined. And the struggles between the worker and management will continue. Management wants us to fear technology because they know if we're reticent to adopt it, they can use it against us. But if they can use it, so can we. That's part of the reason why Union Up was born…to use help local unions utilize technology and marketing tools as a bulwark against the chipping away of the most valuable victory the American labor movement won for workers in Labor Day: Time.
Speaking of Time and Technology...
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