Capt. Prater’s ALPA Labor Day Message

September 4, 2010 - Unions are responsible for so many things that we can easily take for granted—health insurance, retirement benefits, days off from work, to name a few—and that’s why Labor Day should mean so much more to us than just the unofficial end of summer.

The United States celebrated its first Labor Day on Sept. 5, 1882, when members of the Central Labor Union staged a march in New York City to demand better working conditions. In Canada, some 2,000 workers represented by the Toronto Typographical Union demonstrated for a 58-hour work week, by parading through the city on April 14, 1872. Labor has come a long way from these dark days, before our governments acknowledged a union’s right to provide its members with a voice in their workplace.

These days, despite the recent recession, the United States and Canada have two of the most powerful, robust economies in the world, and it is the workers of these two great nations who fuel these economies—dedicating their lives, applying their talents and skills, sacrificing time from their families—who make North America prosperous.

Whether it’s toiling in the mines far below beautiful mountains or in the skies high above our lands, workers—united through their unions—share in so many common goals and struggle such as building a better future for our families, fighting to improve the collective contracts that provide us with the foundation of benefits and wages, saving those jobs from being replaced in corporate transactions, and helping our employers and managers see the truth and benefits of working with us instead of against us.

Take pride in the part you play for labor. Whether it’s setting the standard in contract negotiations or playing a role in strengthening safety and security requirements . . . your collective efforts and leadership to make our countries and our jobs more secure deserve recognition.

This Labor Day, let’s remember all that we have accomplished. We are representatives of labor, and this commemorative day has been set aside in your honor—in honor of all the workers who built and continue to build our two nations.

It’s also a reminder of what we still need to do. Our union is a vehicle for change, but it doesn’t go anywhere unless we vow to take it somewhere. As the Board of Directors’ meeting approaches, the pilots of ALPA will determine where we are going to take our union and how we are going to get there. Let’s recommit ourselves to working together, to making a difference, to making the most of a Union built by and for airline pilots, a fact that has not changed since 1931—the Air Line Pilots Association.

ALPA members will be doing their jobs around the globe this weekend just like every day and every holiday—year-round. ALPA representatives and volunteers will do the same, as that is the standard we set for ourselves in the never-ending quest to improve our members’ lives and careers. For that I salute you. Have a great weekend and enjoy your families and freedoms with fellow trade union members.

We are airline pilots. We are Labor. We are ALPA.