Why Unions Matter
The most significant event in my childhood was the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. I recall the confusion, fear, and apprehension that I experienced as a second grader that day. I vividly remember seeing the red car pull up in front of my house that day, and my father walking out of it with his fellow union workers. I ran out the front door and into my father’s arms, but was told that he was going back to Ground Zero with his co-workers to help with the rescue and cleanup.
Although tears filled my eyes and streamed down my face, it was that day that I realized what actually encompasses a union worker.
As a young child I playfully chanted union slogans and attended rallies with my father, a union steamfitter, despite having no idea what we were marching for. I never realized what the numbers “638” on my father’s clothing meant and why it was so important to him. After the terror attacks, I finally understood why unions mattered. Every union and every construction local in the New York City area worked together to help rescue and aid the communities and families affected by the tragedy.
Determined members, accompanied with cumbersome equipment and supplies, worked around the clock to assist the rescue and recovery at Ground Zero. These heroic individuals disregarded the dangers and uncertainty of the situation.
The benefit of union labor can be seen every day as well. Unions provide stability, strength, and trained and skilled labor to those around them. Businesses utilizing union labor reflect a consistent workforce with little or no turnover. Employees work harder and are rewarded with established benefits as well as a secure future for themselves and for their loved ones. Discipline, dedication, skillfulness, and pride grow out of this strong association.
My growth from childhood into young adulthood has been greatly affected by the amazing union members whom I have encountered over the years. My beliefs and values have been shaped by their efforts and by the discipline that I continue to see each day. I think back to those days where I was a young child marching around with union workers and their families while innocently shouting the memorized slogan.
Now, however, I realize how significant those steps that I marched were. Those marched steps were not just tedious walking – they were steps to a brighter future. Those chanted words were not just a catchy slogan – they were the backbone behind American society. And those workers surrounding me were not just day-to-day acquaintances – they were family.
They were MY family.