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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.

One of the workshops at the Connecticut AFL-CIO’s two-day convention that opened here Thursday explored the lessons offered from “worker power resurgence,” a reference to labor’s extraordinary year of strikes and other work stoppages in 2018.

For decades, working families could depend on labor unions to represent their collective interests -- ensuring a living wage, better benefits and a voice in their workplace. Now, after 50 years of rollbacks on union and labor rights, workers have been silenced at their jobs. The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act is an opportunity for Congress to give working families their voice back.

Letter Carriers member Paul Trotman was lucky his house survived Hurricane Florence. When the dust settled, he applied for a Union Plus Disaster Relief Grant, a benefit of being an eligible Union Plus Credit Cardholder. He and his family used the $500 grant to get back on their feet.

October 3, 2019: By unanimous consent of over 200 delegates to the 2019 Massachusetts AFL-CIO Biennial Constitutional Convention, Steven A. Tolman, Massachusetts AFL-CIO President, was elected to a third term in office last week. In his remarks, President Tolman urged unions to remain in solidarity with one another and to remember each other’s humanity. He stated:

For her entire adult life, CSEA member Guaren Long has wanted to go back to school to get the college education she felt was missing from her life. When she got an email from the Union Plus Free College Program, she enrolled immediately and hasn’t looked back. With just five classes left, Long has been very happy with her experience and credits the program’s flexibility and course offerings.

A decade ago, General Motors was on the verge of collapse. Facing down an earth-shattering financial crisis, tens of thousands of UAW members agreed to help save an American icon — and the economy along with it.

Autoworkers took on personal financial sacrifices, conceding contract victories that had taken years to secure. Working harder and longer for less, they ultimately carried GM out of bankruptcy and into a period of record-breaking profits.

When about 48,000 workers went on strike Monday against General Motors, they launched the largest American labor stoppage against any business since the financial crisis.