Do you know why we have Labor laws that implement 40 hour work weeks and require time-and-a-half pay for additional hours worked? Why we are restricted to eight hour work days for most jobs and have established sanitary and safety standards? In the early 1900s, textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts were treated horribly. There were no safety standards with the danger of their job working in mills. Skilled workers were eliminated for unskilled immigrants including children under the age of 14 earning less than $9/wk for sixty hours of work. When production increased workers were laid off. A strike broke out formed by the Industrial Workers of the World and demanded for a fifteen percent increase in wages for a fifty-four-hour work week, double time for overtime work, and no discrimination against workers for their strike activity. A year later the Silk workers broke out a strike for eight hour work days and better working conditions. If it wasn’t for our union brothers and sisters who walked in the front lines for higher wages and better working conditions, we wouldn’t be where we are today. The fight isn’t over. We still need higher wages, better benefits and better working conditions. It is during financial and economic hardships when unions are so important because the voice of workers is much stronger when heard through a united body. Let’s continue this fight not only for ourselves but for our children and their children.

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