There was some tough talk on this Labor Day Weekend from working people, as many labor unions are fighting to survive. 

But they are also fighting back.

The South Bay Labor Council’s Annual Labor Day picnic featured the music of the late Woodie Guthrie, plenty of barbecues, and a reminder that as the labor movement in America goes, so goes the middle class, says Executive Director Ben Field.

“The labor movement has been under attack for decades now and that attack has worked,” Field said. “It has diminished the power of the labor movement in a wide variety of places across the county to get better wages for working families.”

While unemployment is at an 18-year low, wages are stagnant, particularly among unionized workers, especially in the private sector, where union membership has fallen to roughly 11 percent.

Business is booming in Silicon Valley but working people are struggling to make ends meet, says Local 265 Vice President Charles Brown.

“It’s great that unemployment is low, but we also need a living wage,” Brown said. “It costs a lot of money to live in Santa Clara County and many of us are barely making it.” 

Unions are fighting back with the spread of teacher strikes across the country and the defeat of a right-to-work law in Missouri.

A recent Gallup Poll found that 62 percent of America now support labor unions.

“People are starting to realize that organized labor is critical to building an economy that works for everybody,” Field said.

The rank-and-file would have you remember that unions brought about many things that both union and non-union workers now take for granted–things like the 40-hour work week, minimum wage, overtime, and paid leave.