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Thank a union for Labor Day and weekends, says AFL-CIO president

UNDATED (WXPR) -- Today is Labor Day and state union officials say you should enjoy your day off.

Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO president Bill Brockmeyer says today's a day meant for you to relax, and you should take that opportunity. "...it is a break from work. That's the point. To recognize people who toil for a living. So enjoy the day!"

It's also a chance for you to enjoy the things that organized labor has brought about in terms of work reforms across the country. "I mean 40 hour work weeks and overtime. We don't have eleven year olds working in meat packing plants like we had 100 years ago." Brockmiller says you should also thank a union for the idea of weekends to begin with. "We have Sunday off and usually Saturday off. We didn't get there because there was a lot of benevolence on part of employers."

Brockmiller says workers before this time banded together and said they need more than just work in their lives. He says they stood firm that if they were asked to do more, they needed compensation. Labor activists also note improved working conditions resulted from bargaining.

In 2013 there were 14.5 million union members in the U.S., compared with 17.7 million in 1983. In 2013, the percentage of workers belonging to a union in the United States was 11.3 percent, compared to 20.1 percent in 1983.

In this region, there's a Labor Day parade in Wausau at 4 p.m. It starts on the corner of West Wausau Avenue and Third Avenue and ends at the Labor Temple.