Protect working people

On Labor Day, we honor the achievements of America’s working people. This celebration comes at a critical time. Collective action is on the rise — yet so are the attacks on pay, health care, retirement security and rights on the job.

In Iowa, those attacks were magnified. The freedom to bargain for public workers, protections for injured workers, and rights for building trades workers were savaged. An anti-worker agenda was implemented under the leadership of Americans for Prosperity, whose lobbyist was the only audience member at the signing of the law undoing public-sector bargaining.

But working families are taking steps to win the freedom to negotiate a fair return on our work so we can provide for our families. Many are taking the initiative to sponsor, coordinate or host events. From the women’s march at the capitol with more than 25,000 people, hundreds at the Working Family Summit in Ames, more than 1,100 at the CCI Convention and rallies for the Charlottesville victims — all show that people are awakened to the need for involvement to protect our freedoms.

Because of our unity, working people in 2016 won the largest pay increase in years. A strong majority of Americans have a positive view of unions. Workers are organizing, from manufacturing to higher education to the digital economy.

We also are standing up to politicians who have continued to take away the freedoms unions have won for all of us. It is critical we continue to organize and mobilize around an agenda that gives people the freedom to form and join unions.

Today, even as we ride a wave of pro-worker momentum, our economy remains out of balance. The CEO-to-worker pay ratio in 2016 was an obscene 347:1. Corporations are shipping our jobs overseas; stashing profits offshore to avoid taxes. And politicians continue to try to take away the freedoms unions have won for all workers.

Inequality is not inevitable. Our economy is nothing more than a set of rules. We can, and we must, elect leaders who will rewrite those rules so wages are high, benefits are strong, work is safe, retirement is secure and the freedom to negotiate is universal.

This Labor Day, as we celebrate the contributions of working families, let’s pledge to do the hard work of transforming our economy so every American can prosper.