Labor Day 2022—Time to Take Action and Organize

Our union is our power.

Since the creation of labor unions in the 1860s, people who work for a living have used their collective voice to make change: fighting for higher pay, reducing wage inequality, promoting better and safer working conditions, pushing for health care and retirement benefits, advocating for public education and civic participation. 

It hasn’t always been easy, but the battles have transformed America. 

Our accomplishments are now being noticed, and they’re getting positive reviews. Throughout our nation, there has been a rebirth of interest in unions. People understand the need for representation at work, especially since the pandemic. A recent poll shows that 71% percent of Americans say they now approve of labor unions, up from 64% before the pandemic, and the highest favorable percentage Gallup has recorded since 1965.

Today, things that most people take for granted happened through the hard work of organized labor. Unions have brought diverse voices together. Their struggles have elevated the standard of living and the workplace recognition enjoyed not just by their members, but by a wide spectrum of workers. Here are just a few examples of labor’s success:

  • 40-hour workweek
  • End of child labor 
  • 8-hour workday
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Workers’ compensation laws
  • Employer-based health coverage
  • Pensions and retirement security
  • Family and Medical Leave

For teachers, unions and collective bargaining started more than a century ago. For school administrators and supervisors, the union movement took off in the 1960s. And while educators bargained for traditional issues of salary and benefits, it didn’t take long for contracts to address empowering educators on class size, how schools are run, professional development, and other areas to deliver the best possible education to the children and communities we serve. Working together, we stood up to ensure that educators were treated like the professionals we are.

Share Your Ideas

For American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA) members, Labor Day not only marks the end of the summer, but also the beginning of our new school year. 

And this year we face special challenges—from students who lost ground while learning remotely and dealing with the effects of the ongoing pandemic, to teacher shortages and heightened concerns about school safety.

As we begin educating our students this school year, I ask all of you to name three things you would fight for if you had the ability to write key contract provisions on the education services you deliver. We will take these ideas and develop sample contract language, and share the concepts with all our locals to help make them a reality.

While we work to get stronger, let’s remember that anti-union forces have spent years attacking, twisting and fracturing our labor laws, leaving many people without the chance to join a union. We need to rewrite the rules so we can have a fair fight. The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act are critical to leveling the playing field in our nation. It’s time for Congress to pass these bills into law, so everyone has the chance to organize. 

The surge in worker organizing we’re seeing this year isn’t happening by accident. From Amazon warehouses to coffee shops to school districts around the nation, working people want respect, better pay and working conditions, and change. 

Let‘s Make AFSA Bigger

AFSA has seen more calls from school leaders to form unions than ever before. This new momentum stems from decades of frustration driven by wage stagnation, unsafe workplaces, unaffordable health care, attacks on public education, and a lack of respect, dignity and a voice on the job.

That’s why we’re recommitting to grow our organizing efforts. We want to protect the dream and share it with our currently nonunionized colleagues. AFSA is going to get bigger.

Today I am calling on all of you to reach out to your friends and colleagues in communities around the nation that are not unionized or not affiliated with AFSA and tell them now is the time to join our union. 

Talk to other AFSA members in your own community and see what it will take for them to engage in union activities and advocacy. Remember, union is power. The more voices we have united together, the stronger we are.

Power is the greatest weapon you can have to overcome obstacles and keep us moving forward. It‘s the best tool for us to be there for our students and community in ways that count. I ask you to engage with us, be one with us. Call us with your suggestions, your questions and your requests for help. 

Your union is here to make you—and therefore American education—stronger. And always remember, YOU are our union.

Happy Labor Day.