Local union members celebrate progress of labor

Labor Day 9-3-12

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Labor Day for many people means a three day weekend and maybe even time out on the lake, but for some it's much more than that.

A local Labor Day celebration focuses on what some say the holiday is all about; the American worker.

A cookout with good food and friends isn't a typical Monday for most electrical workers.

"One day you could be running pipe, one day you could be digging a ditch," said Christy Brady, an electrician and member of the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers chapter.

This Labor Day, many local union members are enjoying not just a day off work but the impact of organized labor in their own lives.

"I am one of the few women, less than ten, that is a member of this local here, IBEW local 934, and I can really appreciate being able to be a member here, because you know not too long ago, was any women allowed on construction jobs?" said Brady.

Roy Wilson credits unions for fixing what he called a dangerous work experience at the former North American Rayon Plant in Elizabethton.

"We didn't have the right to know what we were working in, and we were working in some stuff that was called caustics that was one chemical away from what they killed with in World War II in nerve gas, and we had no idea what we were in," said Wilson, who is also the president of the local United Steelworkers union.

Some said unions like the I.B.E.W. helped to give all American employees the rights and freedoms they know today.

"It was organized labor that won us the eight hour work day. It was organized labor that won overtime pay. It was organized labor that did away with child labor," said Stewart Acuff, a representative of the AFL-CIO. He said it took a fight of nearly 100 years to land these rights.

Though many said these triumphs in the workplace are all but lost on average employee.

"It's taken for granted by everybody who just enjoys it. People really need to realize that people sacrificed and fought hard to get these things for everybody," Brady explained.

So each Labor Day, these union members will continue to use their day off to keep that recognition alive.

Most Popular