Labor finds itself on the short end of the American stick these days. Many factors contribute to this hard reality for working people. No society can thrive for long without a high view of the value of labor.
That's why I really like the recent "Walk a Day in My Shoes" campaign initiated by the Services Employees International Union (SEIU). Have you seen reports about this unique effort?
Through “Walk a Day in My Shoes,” SEIU invites presidential candidates to spend a day fully engulfed in the world of a ordinary American worker both at work and at home. It is all about making sure politicians experience the real world of American labor.is like for the rest of us.
In each case the workers expose the politicians to their daily lives and struggles that often make even the most routine tasks difficult. Forced to work second jobs, they have less time to spend with their families. They return home from work and just hours later have to get their kids off to school or day care on time and make it to their next job on time.
The common worries heard during these ventures into national reality include concerns about what happens to their savings (if they have any) if they or their children contract a devastating illness. Workers are anxious about becoming a burden to their kids if they can’t save enough for retirement. Most believe that the future facing their children will be even more challenging than what they have faced and endured.
The union believes that every candidate running for president needs to understand these worries, and feel them. The workers involved and those they represent expect real results on the issues that matter to them—a paycheck that supports a family, affordable health care, a secure retirement and a better life for themselves and their families.
“Walk a Day in My Shoes” is about making sure politicians truly know what the real world is like for millions of American voters. Only candidates who participate will be considered for an endorsement by SEIU.
Senator Barack Obama walked in the shoes of home care worker Pauline Beck on August 8th.
Senator Christopher Dodd walked in the shoes of Head Start teacher Colleen Mehaffey on July 26th.
Governor Bill Richardson walked in the shoes of family services worker Mark Fitzgerald on June 7th.
Senator John Edwards walked in the shoes of nursing home worker Elaine Ellis on April 11th.
Senator Hillary Clinton walked in the shoes of Las Vegas nurse Michelle Estrada yesterday.
Senator Joseph Biden and Gov. Mike Huckabee have accepted SEIU’s challenge and will be walking soon.
I like what one great American President said about the value of labor during his "Annual Message to Congress."
"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration." (Abraham Lincoln, December 3, 1861 )
Ordinary workers should be respected, their voices and concerns heard, their needs and their contributions valued.