Political Action Center

Why is it important for Labor Unions to be involved in politics?
Prior to 1842 the legality of workers acting collectively to raise wages, shorten hours or ensure employment was questionable at best and in many cases illegal.  The case of the Commonwealth (Massachusetts) Vs, Hunt changed this.  It was an act of the judicial branch of government (politics) that gave us collective bargaining rights.

In 1866 The National Labor Union began lobbying Congress (politics) for an 8 hour work day.  Over time the 8 hour workday would come to be as would overtime pay, the 40 hour work week and health and safety laws.  Organized Labor’s advocacy led to Congress’ formation of the Department of Labor and passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the National Labor Relations Act and Davis-Bacon which establishes and protects local area wage rates on federal projects. 

The United States Department of Labor is an Executive (President, politics) Department with the President appointing a Secretary of Labor to a cabinet post.  Whether or not the Secretary is “Labor’s Voice in the Cabinet” as it was intended to be depends on the President.  Today’s US Department of Labor enforces more than 180 laws (politics) and the Current Secretary of Labor is R. Alexander Acosta, former Chairman of the Board of US Century Bank and Investment Banker at Lehman Brothers.

Some states have local laws that mirror the Federal Laws enforced by the US Department of Labor.  These laws can set and enforce prevailing wages on state and local government projects.  One local law that you may be familiar with is the recently passed New York City Construction Safety Act, Local Law 196.  We have also passed Elevator Safety Legislation in New Jersey and Continue to work on Elevator Safety Legislation in New York State.  These laws will protect both workers and the elevator riding public.

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