Sunday, September 19, 2021

Stand up for working families

by Laurie Bishop
| September 5, 2021 12:00 AM

From teachers and police officers to pipe fitters and nurses, union workers play an enormous role in our lives: keeping us safe, taking care of us, and building the infrastructure we need to thrive.

As we celebrate Labor Day this year, I am reminded of the struggles the labor movement has fought and won on behalf of working women and men all across this country, and the work we still need to do to meet their needs.

Montana played a central role in the labor movement, and that legacy is felt everywhere you look, from safer workplaces and a 40-hour work week, to improved gender equality and health benefits. The early success of the movement helped transform Montana’s economy, and led to greater opportunity for everyone.

But it’s a legacy under threat. Montana workers are facing an uphill battle to fight for safe working conditions and liveable wages on the other side of a pandemic that upended our economy and put essential workers’ lives at risk. These conditions - on top of skyrocketing costs for housing, child care and mental health services - are keeping Montanans out of the workforce and hurting our working families.

I was proud to stand alongside workers last winter, as the Republican-controlled legislature tried to rip away your right to organize and collectively bargain for fairer wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions. And I was even prouder to be part of the team that defeated those harmful bills. But we still have a long way to go to protect working families from Helena’s anti-worker agenda.

It is time for our leaders to recognize that our economy will never be whole if the needs of our workers are not met. In Congress, I will stand up for working families, and fight to give Montanans more access to affordable housing, child care, and mental health services. That starts with passing the PRO Act.

The PRO Act is a landmark piece of legislation that would put an end to these cynical attempts to gut union households by empowering workers to exercise their rights to collectively bargain for better, fairer terms of employment. It would transform the worker-employee relationship by putting power back in the hands of the people and lifting up thousands of working families along the way.

Workers made Montana the state it is today, and we can be economic leaders again if we stand up for working families and give them the resources they need to thrive. This Labor Day, let’s commit to passing legislation that supports the workers who keep our communities together, and build an economy that works for everyone.

Rep. Laurie Bishop is a Democratic candidate for Montana’s new congressional seat and has served as a state legislator in her small town of Livingston since 2017.