Labor unions concerned about current working conditions

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Labor Day was first celebrated in 1882 to honor the nation's workers and the strides made in the labor movement. Today, labor unions are concerned too much of the economic pain felt in the current recession is being felt by workers.

"Many people are concerned if they'll have to work their entire life," said Jim Judd, president of the Utah AFL-CIO.

It's a concern Judd has been hearing more often. In his position, he keeps tabs on the pulse of America's workers. Over the past year he's seen jobs dissolve, benefits taken away and retirees re-entering the workforce.

"They were not well-treated in the economy in this last downturn," Judd said.

Jim Judd, president of the Utah AFL-CIO
Jim Judd, president of the Utah AFL-CIO

But it's something Judd would like to change bay, quote: "Making sure that people can live with dignity, not only through their working years, but through their retirement years." That dignity would be attained through working secure jobs that pay good salaries, he says, and provide affordable benefits.

Judd says it's those things that have more and more people looking to join or start unions of their own.

"These workers want to be able to have a say in what their employment is and how they'll be compensated and how their future will look," Judd said.

Those same concerns spawned the Labor Movement in the 1800s. Workers then fought for the eight-hour work day and child labor laws that helped kids, like a group of child shoe shiners known as the Utah Boot Blacks, get an education. Their efforts led to the creation of Labor Day.

"Congress acted and made it a federal holiday to celebrate what the workers had given the country," Judd said.

He says it's important to remember we have a lot of work left to do to protect the laborers of today and tomorrow.

"As we look into Labor Day and celebrate the accomplishments of the past, we know that there's great work to be done to secure the future for workers here in this country," Judd said.

The AFL-CIO will host a big, free party at Copper Park in Magna on Labor Day. It starts at noon and runs until 5 p.m.

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Keith McCord


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