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With Labor Day just around the corner, we need to make one thing clear: America needs unions.

I’ve spent more than seven years as a union member working at Beaumont Hospital. I’m a dietary worker, preparing meals for your loved ones and making them comfortable when they’re at their most vulnerable. Health care jobs like mine are some of the fastest-growing in the country. We need to make sure these are good union jobs so we can provide for our families while delivering quality care to our communities.

I’ve worked non-union jobs in the past and the difference is clear. Without a union, my coworkers and I faced arbitrary pay cuts based on our bosses’ whims. We weren’t respected the same way that the union workers were, and the difference in pay was stark.

Because we joined together in a union my coworkers and I have higher starting wages than non-union workers who do the same job at other hospitals. We have the ability to seek promotions and earn seniority and job security. We have annual raises negotiated into our contract so we know we can provide for our families as rent and the cost of gas goes up. Most importantly, we have a voice at work.

Too many working moms and dads are struggling in today’s economy and don’t feel like they can ever get ahead. Too many Americans don’t have the power to negotiate a fair wage for honest work. Today we have too much wealth in the hands of a few, and they continue to push elected officials to strip away workers’ freedom to join together in a union, instead rigging the system so the rich continue to get richer. Corporate profits keep rising, but working people aren’t getting our fair share.

It’s time to talk about unions and what they can continue to do to build a stronger middle class in Michigan and across the United States. Working class families need to use our power in numbers to make sure out-of-touch politicians hear us. To rebalance the economy we need to guarantee that working women and men have the freedom and ability to join together in unions. When we stick together and build a strong union, we have the power to lift ourselves up and hold big businesses and politicians accountable.

This Labor Day we need to remember that this day is all about sticking up for each other, strengthening the middle class, and building a brighter future. This is about the world we want to leave for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come. Let’s continue to inspire one another, lift each other up, and build a better society in which working people have a fair shot to get ahead and the freedom to join together in unions.

Brandon Brzys is a dietary worker at Beaumont Taylor.

LABOR VOICES

Labor Voices columns are written on a rotating basis by United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams, Teamsters President James Hoffa, Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber and Michigan Education Association President Steven Cook.

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