“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” A French term when translated to English says, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” To fully understand how this is relevant in today’s world, one only has to pick up a history book. The battle between labor and management (Capital) has been an ongoing war since our country was founded. And like any battle, there has been ups and downs for both sides. Labor has fought for things like the 40-hour work week, mandatory overtime pay, safer working conditions, maternity leave, paid sick leave, health benefits and retirement. When labor is successful in its battles, the vast majority of Americans benefit. Whether you’re a union worker with these benefits built into your collective bargaining agreement, a non-union worker who suddenly was given a raise so his employer could remain competitive, or a local small business owner enjoying a surge in business because the community now has more disposable income, we all benefit from the battles fought for by the labor movement. The last few years has seen a dramatic attack on all of organized labor. With one political party hell bent on destroying the middle class and the other afraid to stand up and lead, it is clear that labor has no friends. And yet we still fight. Why? Let’s just say it’s who we are. It’s where we came from. Not all of us had the vision to be born into a wealthy family. Some of us have had to work like hell to get to where we are. This nation was built by labor, with blood, sweat and tears not the checkbook of a spoiled rich kid living off daddy’s inheritance. On Dec. 3, 1861, in his State of the Union Address, President Abraham Lincoln said “Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits.” Sadly, many in this country no longer share that view of workers. To hear some tell the story, it was the fault of the working class that took the entire worlds’ economy to the brink of collapse. But if history repeats itself, which it will, we will start to see a change. People will get fed up with the overreaching of the corporations. They will tire of the games being played by the bankers and they will act. They will not stand for seeing their wages and benefits dwindling while the very corporations they work for enjoy record profits. They will start holding their elected officials accountable. They will stop believing the propaganda being spread by the haters of labor and they will see what is really unfolding before their eyes. They will take back their country. So whether you’re a cop walking the beat, a fireman rushing into a burning building to save lives or a teamster delivering a load of goods to our stores, a carpenter building a home, an iron worker walking a beam 100 floors up or a teacher educating our young, whether you’re a sheet metal worker bending some tin or a boilermaker building the power plant that keeps the lights on, please remember the words of the great George Meany. “Labor never quits. We never give up the fight. No matter how tough the odds, no matter how long it takes.” Happy Labor Day America. w Fred Rumsey is the Political Committee Chairman for the Hanford ATomic Metal Trades Council.