COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – The Labor Day holiday is a time set aside to honor the American Labor Movement and the power of collective action by laborers.
Most people associate Monday with a three day weekend, or maybe the last chance for a summer barbeque –and they should.
Folks at the local IUE-CWA chapter said the holiday can be spent however the working class sees fit.
Jim Green is the vice president of the IUE-CWA Local 83770, which is a labor union formed to represent civilian workers at the Columbus Air-Force Base.
“As opposed to a lot of bases where you have active military members working on the aircraft, these members out here are all civilians. A good majority of them, or a good percentage of them, are retired military or veterans, but they are all civilians,” said Green.
Green said the Labor Day holiday is very important to America’s working class.
“To me so many of the things you use, I mean everything you buy in the store or online or whatever is made by someone. You look around and everything we’ve got was made by somebody, and it’s their job to make it,” said Green.
His primary job at the union is to make sure employees are well represented and their needs met.
“Provides support for the members. It provides backing and with a collective bargaining agreement that you negotiate with your company. You set forth a standard as far as your wages and benefits. Everything from your insurance to holidays, your time off, everything is negotiated, and everything is put into a collective bargaining agreement. The company is bound by the law to follow this agreement… The more members you have, the higher the percentage of the employees that are in the union, the stronger the union is,” said Green.
Green said there are several different scenarios in which a labor union supports workers.
“If you’ve got a language in your collective bargaining agreement regarding attendance, and that language says after you have three unexcused absences you get a letter of reprimand, then you have a person that gets three unexcused absences and the company terminates them, well they didn’t follow the collective bargaining agreement. At that point, the union would step in, and you would file a grievance and go through the proper procedures to make sure that employee was treated in accordance with the bargaining agreement,” said Green.
Green said many people don’t realize that labor unions were the driving force behind the holiday.
“They started the movement to recognize Labor Day as a holiday, and it’s a day we set aside to recognize the working force of America,” said Green.
For more information on the IUE-CWA, click here.