Tampa Bay Times Letter to the Editor: Fight wage discrimination

The below ran in the Tampa Bay Times on September 1, 2017

Since 1894, Labor Day has been a national holiday to honor the contributions of America's workers to our great nation. For many it is the end of the summer and the last weekend to fire up the grill.

As we celebrate, we cannot escape the fact that far too many of us are working harder just to keep up. We may not even see Labor Day even as a holiday but a chance to earn a few extra dollars with our side hustle or through holiday pay. Wage stagnation and economic inequality have become facts of life, especially for workers who also have to overcome wage discrimination.

You can find the effects of wage discrimination and overall economic inequality all around our state. But do you know where that is not a problem? With workers in jobs that are covered by a union contract. That is because a worker who has exercised his or her voice on the job and enjoys the protections of a union contract is compensated based on the work done. It doesn't matter the gender, race, age, orientation, religion or any other factor — pay is based on the job you do.

The same workers who built this country and are honored on Labor Day are part of the solution to economic discrimination and inequality. Nobody is going to give Floridians a job they can raise a family on out of the goodness of their hearts. We must stand up together and secure the future we want.

If we want to be paid for what we do, not what we look like or which manager likes us or not, then we need to make labor a part of our workday and not just a holiday.

Andy Madtes, Tallahassee

The writer is executive director of AFSCME Florida.