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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.

The path to the presidency runs through the labor movement.

Richard Trumka, president of the U.S.’s largest labor group, AFL-CIO, appreciates President Donald Trump’s stance on trade. However, as it stands now, the president does not have a record that helps workers, according to Trumka.

Sponsored by the Milwaukee Building & Construction Trades Council and the AFL-CIO, National Apprenticeship Week celebrates leaders in business, labor, and education and allows them to demonstrate their support for apprenticeship programs.

“We are committed to making our students and community aware of the multiple career options available and hands-on events are an excellent way for this meaningful career exploration to take place,” said Gary Kiltz, Superintendent of Greendale Schools.

NPR's Michel Martin speaks with the president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, about union strategies following the midterm elections.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Brothers & Sisters,

On behalf of the 300,000 union members in the state of Indiana, it is with great sadness to bid farewell to our champion of labor Senator Joe Donnelly. He worked hard for the working people of this state and this country, and we have the utmost confidence that he will continue to serve working Hoosiers.

Organized labor’s record voter mobilization efforts this year, which started earlier than ever before for a mid-term election, emphasized pocketbook issues and – says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka – will produce huge “momentum at the ballot box” on Nov. 6.

It also produced a record number of unionists running for everything from city council and county commissioner to Congress and governor, Trumka and Julie Greene, the federation’s mobilizing – and politics – director said in an Oct. 30 telephone press conference.


Brothers & Sisters,

The president is the billionaire head of a global business empire, and his mostly millionaire Cabinet may be the richest in American history. His opponent in the 2016 election was a millionaire. Most Supreme Court Justices are millionaires. Most members of Congress are millionaires (and probably have been for several years).

The Trump administration plans to tackle two important labor policy issues in the coming months: overtime pay and “joint employer” liability for companies in staffing and franchise relationships.