My faculty union is far from perfect. It often focuses on the wrong things. It misses crucial opportunities. It's sometimes tone-deaf. But it has managed to bind together several campuses, embrace lecturers as well as tenure-track faculty, and make us a force to be reckoned with, rather than steamrollered over.
In the roughly ten years since I have been at Grit City U., we have had two contract negotiations. Both times, the union has had to vote to strike before we could get a serious contract. But still, at least we could organize. We are currently ratifying a contract that doesn't include any raises at all, or really, anything to make up for the last three years of stagnation. But we're also protected against losing anything that we've gained, even though the state economy has been in serious trouble for a long time. In this situation, no loss is very close to a win.
As we celebrate this Labor Day, I think of my friends working in Florida and other states like it -- states where somehow, state university employees have to work on the one day a year dedicated to the worker. I think of the struggles of the twentieth century, and hope they won't be undone. And I celebrate and support workers (yes, even intellectual laborers!) everywhere.
The fight is beginning again. United we stand.