Valley Viewpoints: Labor Day

by Tracy Kinne of Parish

As Labor Day approaches, I am reminded of the benefits of labor unions and the challenges those unions face today.

I’ve never been a union member, but I, like countless other workers in the United States, have benefited from the union movement.

When I left my editing position at a newspaper and took a low-wage cashier job just before the Great Recession, I could clearly see the benefits unions had afforded me.

I got rest breaks — at the company’s convenience, for sure, but still one every two to three hours. I wasn’t allowed to work six hours or more without a lunch break.

I was scheduled for five days of work each week, although I almost always had to sign up for extra shifts to make ends meet, sometimes working 21 days in a row.

I used to wonder, what would this be like if not for the labor unions?

Today, there is a lot of talk about labor union excesses, and I see them myself — the neighbor who in retirement gets a state pension larger than my gross income in my best year working as a full-time journalist for one of the better-paying newspapers in the area.

But mostly, I see where we still need unions.

I talked the other day with one of my former co-workers at the big box store where I used to work.

She told me another cashier was fired for a minor infraction but told to reapply in eight weeks and she would be rehired — at a lower pay rate.

This Labor Day, let’s remember the value of unions.

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