Happy Labor Day!

When working people have the freedom to join strong unions and negotiate a fair return for their work, they win the power and voice they need to level the economic and political playing field—something that’s especially necessary in our rigged economy.

We’ve used our voice to advocate for policies that benefit all workers

, including increases to the minimum wage, affordable health care, and well-resourced public schools.

That’s what the labor movement is all about, and it gives us a great reason to celebrate this Labor Day. The holiday is not only a time for celebrating our achievements, however; it is a time for pushing forward.

We face many challenges, including the campaign by corporate CEOs and politicians to eliminate our freedom to form unions. If they succeed, they’ll continue to drive down wages, roll back job protections, defund public services, divert taxpayer dollars to voucher programs and for-profit charter schools, and silence our voices at the ballot box.

We know that unions help working people gain their fair share of the wealth they create and win standards that make workplaces safer for everybody. We are the force that pushes corporations and other employers to be more accountable not only to their workforce, but to the public.

Corporate CEOs and politicians know all of this, too—which explains why they want to silence our voices and take away our freedom to join labor unions. You see, when we have more power to level the playing field, they have less power to wield against working families.

The magic ingredient that gives us the power to keep challenging the status quo is this: Our unity.

I’m proud of it. I’ve seen what we can achieve with it. And I’ve been uplifted by it, even during tough times—times like these.

Our unity means we stand together as a union of educators to fight for our values—our belief, for instance, that all students, no matter where they live, deserve the opportunity for a great education. It also means we come together to fight for what we all hold dear as Americans, such as the fundamental values of freedom and opportunity.

Our unity has brought us together to push for laws to treat people fairly, no matter who they are, where they live, whom they love, or what language they speak. Unity means we’ve spoken as one against the voices of hatred. We have declared our truths loudly to the powerful. We have stood up for those who’ve been close to giving up. We have marched forward even when it would have been easier, more convenient, or less controversial to back down.

Our unity, our collective voice, is something special.

And in that spirit of unity, I’m calling on all of us to contribute whatever we can to NEA’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Through our prayers, words, and deeds, we can make a difference as our members on the Gulf Coast begin the slow, painstaking process of rebuilding their lives. Unity means we wrap our arms around our sisters and brothers in the midst of disaster and do all we can to lift each other up.

This Labor Day, let’s be grateful for our union and for each other…for what we’ve accomplished for children across America, for the members of NEA and for working people from coast to coast, and for the many contributions we continue to make.

And let’s recommit to doing our part to keep our union strong—not just for ourselves, but for a nation that needs us to level the economic and political playing field now more than ever. Thank you for being part of the NEA family.

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