Letter: Labor movement and Independence Day

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On this Independence Day, we think about holiday barbecues, family gatherings and outdoor fun. With all of the commercialism associated with the Fourth of July it is no surprise to anyone that we sometimes forget why we celebrate.

On July 4, 1776, a gathering of representatives from each of the American Colonies met in Philadelphia to sign one of our most important documents, the Declaration of Independence. The message to an oppressive King George III was that we would stand together, as one nation, to assert our right of freedom. And this was only achievable through solidarity: Americans coming together as one for a better life.

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Not much has changed really over the past 236 years. As the American labor movement, we have proved that when we stand together we can make a difference. Look at what we have gained through collective bargaining: the 40-hour workweek, employer-paid medical insurance, pension benefits, paid vacation, safe working conditions and dignity at work. None of this could have been achieved if workers stood as individuals, any more than it would have if the Colonists had kept apart and not banded together to fight against tyranny. Solidarity is the key to our future.

Don Daley, East Moriches

Editor's note: The writer is the business manager of IBEW Local 1049, which represents the utility workers of the Long Island Power Authority and National Grid.

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