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Organized labor feels strong this Labor Day

Counting victories, citing public support
Posted at 7:17 PM, Sep 04, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The original goal of Labor Day was to honor organized labor and what it contributes to our economy and our society and on Labor Day 2023, members of organized labor can look back on a very busy year.

In Tucson’s Kennedy Park, Labor Unions gather to celebrate Labor Day with a traditional picnic and this year they are in a real mood to celebrate.

Michael Sanchez of Teamsters Local 104 says, “Labor is on fire. With UPS, that's where I come out of, UPS in southern Arizona, specifically here in Tucson. And we just ratified one of the best contracts in the history of UPS and the Teamsters. And I think that the momentum that we have, it's going and it's gonna continue with other trade unions around the country.”

It’s been a high profile summer for labor unions.

A lot of Americans would have felt the impact if Teamsters followed through on their threat to strike against UPS. But the company and the workers reached an agreement that Teamsters say is one of the best in their history with UPS.

In Hollywood, production of new shows is stalled. An actors strike against the big movie studios has been running for a month and a half, and a writers strike is on month number four.

In Tucson, the machinists union that represents Raytheon workers is looking ahead to a new contract due next month.

Rick Vargas of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 933 says, “The 22nd (of October) is the expiration of our contract. We’ll be in negotiations with Raytheon. We’ll be looking to go out there and get a fair contract, looking forward to bargaining in good faith with Raytheon and as always we’re looking to come to an agreement for our members at the end of that contract.”

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero visited workers at the picnic. She says for decades people have seen a large and growing gap between what CEO’s make and the pay for the people who make what the companies sell.

“And now we're seeing workers demand that they take part of the gains that private companies are making the billions of dollars that companies are making workers want a fair share.”

There’s also a labor shortage driving up wages and giving workers a little more leverage—plus a feeling that public opinion is giving workers more clout.

Ryan Kelly of the Pima Area Labor Federation says,Labor unions across the country in every national poll are at a higher rating than we've seen in 50 years. 70% plus, of your average American citizen supports the work of labor unions, and something along the lines of 80% of folks in Gen Z and millennials are supportive of unions. So we're really seeing a shift in the balance of worker power, especially coming after the COVID pandemic.”