Labor Day reflections – National Consumers League

By John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud

On Monday, September 7, Americans across the country will enjoy a day of in observance of the Labor Day holiday.  This Labor Day marks the 128th time the holiday will be celebrated and the 116th Labor Day since it became a federal holiday in 1894. For the National Consumers League, Labor Day is especially significant as many of the early leaders of the League came out of the labor movement. Unions continue to play a key role in the advocacy of NCL to this day.  Indeed, our mission statement makes clear that NCL is as much concerned with helping workers as consumers.

So what does this mean on Labor Day?  While we enjoy the last days of summer, take a moment to reflect on the many ways that unions have benefitted consumers and workers.  Things we take for granted today – the 8-hour work day, a guaranteed minimum wage, weekends, safe workplaces, paid sick leave, and employer-based health insurance are just a few of the achievements that America’s labor movement that benefit us all.

Consumers play a role in consumer and worker advocacy with every purchase.  Florence Kelley, the founder of NCL articulated this concept beautifully when she  said “to live means to buy, to buy means to have power, to have power means to have responsibility.”  Consumer spending accounts for approximately three quarters of all spending in the U.S.  What we choose to spend our money on has an enormous impact on how companies treat their workers.  When we as consumers choose to buy products and services from companies that treat their workers fairly, look out for the welfare of their customers, and maintain responsible stewardship of the environment, we are standing up for the principles that Kelley laid out more than 100 years ago.

This Labor Day, remember that every dollar you spend in the market is a choice.  With each responsible choice you make, another brick is added to the foundation of the just and fair society that NCL strives to create every day.