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Fifty-five years ago, in a speech to the convention of the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. laid out with characteristic moral clarity the essential role of unions in American life. “The labor movement,” he explained, “was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress … [When] the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society. Civilization began to grow in the economic life of man, and a decent life with a sense of security and dignity became a reality rather than a distant dream.”

This Labor Day, America’s working families are facing unprecedented challenges.

Thousands of working people across the country joined together on June 17 in a national day of action. We called for the Senate to pass the HEROES Act and for Congress to take actions to address structural racism. The HEROES Act is grounded in America’s Five Economic Essentials that are desperately needed to keep working people safe and financially secure. This day of action was just the beginning. Today and every day that follows, working people will mobilize like never before to make the HEROES Act the law of the land and rid our institutions of systemic racism.

Labor union leaders Liz Shuler and Mary Kay Henry discuss how they rose up through the union ranks and what they’re trying to do to increase the number of women in the labor movement. Shuler, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, and Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, also weigh in on recent Supreme Court decisions, Brett Kavanaugh's nomination, and what that all means for the future of the labor movement.

Listen to the full episode.

AFSCME Local 123 member Demond Stanley used the Union Plus Disaster Relief Grant after catastrophic Hurricane Harvey to assist with damage to his Houston home.

As Labor Day approached, the movement that created the holiday flexed its muscle in Seattle, where the landscape has been transformed in the last few years by labor-backed measures protecting and compensating people like in few other places across the country.

President Donald Trump has presented himself as a champion of the American worker and vowed to restore factory jobs.

For generations America’s promise has been that opportunity to create a better life for your family awaits if you work hard and play by the rules. But this Labor Day, that promise is more out of reach than ever for an increasing number of people.

It's 1929, and workers in the Loray Mill in Gastonia have unanimously decided to strike after work conditions in the mill have gotten worse over time, thanks to management's efforts to reduce operating costs.

Wanting livable wages, better hours, union recognition and to rid the mill of the stretch-out system that was crushing their ability to effectively complete their jobs, 1,800 workers walked out on their jobs on April 1.

Gebre was still a boy when he was forced to flee Ethiopia, a country that suffered political turmoil and famine during the 1980s. “People were getting murdered on the streets by the government,” Gebre says. “They were just grabbing kids and torturing them if they were suspected of being an anarchist or aiding the opposition. That's when I knew I had to find a way to get out.”

President Donald Trump heads into a midterm referendum on his presidency showing no real progress on a core promise: to raise the wages of America’s “forgotten man and woman.”

Once the impact of inflation is included, ordinary Americans’ hourly earnings are lower than they were a year ago.