About 150 people gathered at the 2018 Labor Day Rally & Picnic. Participants took time to rally, recharge, and Get Out the Vote.
The Pennington County Democratic Party provided hamburgers, brats, and hot dogs for attendees.
Speakers were Mike Webster and Whitney Raver. Below are Mike’s thoughts on Labor Day 2018. (Whitney’s remarks posted in a later post.)
“Welcome friends and happy Labor Day! Since at least 1882, a day that celebrates the worker, workers organized into unions, and the benefits we all enjoy from their determined efforts.
Organized labor has been and continues to be the force on the side of the worker. Labor unions have fought hard to bring us all benefits that we may take for granted today. The 40 hour work week, overtime pay, child labor laws, employer based heath care, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and better wages and benefits in general.
These benefits that we all enjoy today didn’t just happen. They were not gifts bestowed upon a loyal workforce by their masters. It took work, perseverance and sustained political activism.
When my dad worked for the railroad and in the union, it seemed like once a week I’d hear him on the phone about the schedule, making sure engineers and conductors were given a safe and fair work schedule.
The restaurant workers union, this past spring for example, demonstrated, advertised, and brought political pressure to prevent management from taking a portion of tips into restaurant profits. They are continuing work in their campaign for one fair wage that would eliminate the two tiered wage system and create one minimum wage.
In South Dakota the minimum wage for tipped workers is more than double the federal standard at 4.33/hr which is still half what other minimum wage workers in the state earn. As you may recall if it weren’t for the organization of thousands of South Dakotans, the minimum wage may not have been raised at all and workers again had to fight against big business and their legislators to maintain the wage for our younger workers. Just like the benefits we enjoy from past successes, if progress is to be made, we must stand together and make it happen.
We need to put the needs of workers first. Our low wage workers deserve a living wage. Too many of us are working too long just to make ends meet, when one minor problem can cause all the dominoes to fall.
Business needs us as much as we need them. We need to think of our workers as the engine that drives our economy and not the other way around.
Workers that are paid well spend their money on local goods. Working 40 hours or less promotes a healthier and more reliable workforce. Time away from work for leisure and life events creates a more productive workforce that’s invested in their employment.
Businesses that invest in their community through philanthropy, local taxes, and create a pro-worker benefits arrangement more commensurate with what the business is capable of will see those investments rewarded. can cause all the
Too many times we’ve seen big business take short term profits at the expense of their workers. In our federal government we see federal workers become targets and scape goats for Republican give-aways to the wealthy. In our own State Government, education is talked about a lot, but solutions are few resulting in our professional teacher wages decreasing against the rate of inflation and health care costs. Year after year they are told “we’ll get the money next time”.
It’s time to say enough is enough. The Republican austerity measures on the working class must end. We need a change in leadership. We need representatives who know the struggle, who know the value of a government on the side of the working class, and will work for us in Pierre.
Lucky for us, we have an opportunity today. An opportunity to support candidates for office that will do just that. An opportunity to make a change for the better. Black Hills area Democrats are ready to go to Pierre and make serious changes for the better. Please help me welcome District 30 candidate for House, Whitney Raver!”