Let’s Celebrate Our Brothers and Sisters in Labor--By Capt. Joe DePete

I grew up in a union family. My father was incredibly dedicated to the work of his union, the International Union of Operating Engineers. As a child, I didn’t understand why he spent so much time away from home as a union volunteer. So, I asked him one day. He replied by giving me a piece of string. He asked me to try to pull it apart, and I did so with ease. Then he handed me a bundle of several pieces of string wound together and challenged me to try to pull them all apart. Of course, I took the challenge, but no matter how hard I tried, I was unable to break the bundle of strings apart. My dad explained that when we are alone, it’s easy to break us down, but if we stand together, our collective strength can rise to any challenge. That simple demonstration spoke volumes about the importance of collective bargaining and the strength that individuals can draw from a union and collective action.


For decades, unions were the source of strength for the middle class. Unions were the glue that held the left and the right together. When the influence of unions isn’t present, we’ve seen increasing polarization in our society. Unions are a critical part of the fabric of American and Canadian society because this system allows hardworking men and women to have a voice in their workplaces. It allows individuals to come together to bargain collectively to secure market-rate wages and benefits and ensure safe working conditions. Unions help lift workers up and set up families to achieve their dreams.


So on this Labor Day, let’s take a moment to reflect on how the labor movement has helped secure many of the workplace protections we take for granted today—the 40-hour workweek, the two-day weekend, the end of child labor, and many more. As members of the largest pilots’ union in the world, ALPA pilots know the value of a strong union, and we work hard with our AFL-CIO brothers and sisters to preserve the fundamental human right to organize. 

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