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Fifty-five years ago, in a speech to the convention of the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. laid out with characteristic moral clarity the essential role of unions in American life. “The labor movement,” he explained, “was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress … [When] the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society. Civilization began to grow in the economic life of man, and a decent life with a sense of security and dignity became a reality rather than a distant dream.”

This Labor Day, America’s working families are facing unprecedented challenges.

Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, I learned at an early age the power of unions to dramatically improve the opportunities of black families in America.

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Press Release: New Studies Show Unions Help Improve Economic Inequality

Malden, MA: Two recently released studies analyzing new data from the Census’ Current Population Survey (CPS) show that unions are the best solution to tackle the problem of income inequality.

The tension between work and time off has always been a concern of the American labor movement. Work may be one of our core values, but it has a purpose, which is to allow us to live good lives, provide for ourselves and our families and, yes, to earn some time off to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Today, work and time off are badly out of balance, and Labor Day is a case in point.

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Working people are taking fewer vacation days and working more. That's the top finding in a new national survey, conducted by polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for the AFL-CIO in collaboration with the Economic Policy Institute and the Labor Project for Working Families. In the survey, the majority of America's working people credit labor unions for many of the benefits they receive.

As Hurricane Harvey and its remnants bring unprecedented flooding and damage to a huge portion of Texas, working people in the state are going above and beyond their duties to help one another.

In January, I was invited to serve on President Donald Trump’s manufacturing council, along with my boss, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. At the time, I was deputy chief of staff at the AFL-CIO (the largest federation of trade unions in America) and a spokesperson for the organization on trade, manufacturing, and economic policy. President Trumka and I agreed to serve because we believed — and still do — that working people should have a voice in crucial government decisions affecting their jobs, their lives, and their families.

With you, I have watched with heartbreak the hateful and violent actions of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville this week and the subsequent offensive and troubling reaction from President Trump. The Massachusetts AFL-CIO joins AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka in condemning last Saturday’s act of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville. We mourn with the families and friends of Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates. We call on President Trump to unequivocally reject white supremacy and racism.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump stood in the lobby of his tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and again made excuses for bigotry and terrorism, effectively repudiating the remarks his staff wrote a day earlier in response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va.