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Labor Day message from NEA President Lily Eskelsen García

President Lily Eskelsen García joins President Barack Obama to mark Wisconsin’s “Laborfest 2014”

WASHINGTON - September 01, 2014 -

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García issued the following statement in recognition of Labor Day 2014, which marks the first day of President Eskelsen García at the helm of the nation’s largest labor union. She was elected president of NEA in July. President Eskelsen García traveled to Wisconsin to join President Barack Obama to celebrate workers’ rights at “Laborfest 2014.”

“The story of America is the story of its working people—their struggles and successes and their hopes for a better future for themselves and their families. For decades, labor unions have led the way for millions of Americans to achieve economic security and progress by giving workers a voice and bigger say in our economy and our political system.

“NEA has a long, rich and robust

tradition of organizing, working for social justice and advocating for the rights of students and educators. The vast majority of our nation’s educators are proud union members; 3 million of them are NEA members. We are the union members who drive students to school, serve their meals, heal their wounds and help them cross the street, and comfort and protect them in times of crisis.

“Today, and every day, we honor the working women and men of this country by recognizing the work they have done to make this country great and to provide a better life for our children. Labor Day belongs to you, the workers and professionals who teach our children, build our bridges and roads, and protect our communities and our country.  

“But these are challenging times for working families: a diminishing middle class, raising inequality,

families struggling to make ends meet, and the American Dream slipping from their hands. The rich are getting richer and some politicians only want to make life tougher for families. Working people are in the fight of their lives. And the future of the middle class is in jeopardy.

“That didn’t happen by accident. From coast to coast, the rise in political and corporate attacks on working families, and unions in particular, has been unprecedented. Politicians went after teachers, nurses, working families and the poor in the middle of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. They silenced their voices and stripped them and other critical public services workers of their collective bargaining rights. They fired teachers and other school personnel. They gave their wealthy donors and CEOs tax breaks while those same CEOs outsource jobs and cut wages and benefits for working class families.

“That is wrong and misguided. We know the road to economic opportunity and to the middle class runs directly through our nation’s public schools, and we must stand strong for our students, for great public schools, and for our communities. We must raise our voices, stand up, and advocate for the policies that will bring economic security and prosperity to our communities, our members, their families and the students we serve.

“As we pause, reflect and celebrate Labor Day, I urge all Americans to roll up their sleeves and join us in our fight for the issues that matter to our members, families and communities—investing in education, creating jobs to move the economy forward, raising the minimum way to improve the lives of working families, and making college more affordable. This is a fight worth having because so much is at stake for our children.”

Labor Day honors the American worker and acknowledges the value and dignity of work and its role in American life. The first Labor Day was celebrated on Sept. 5, 1882, in New York. Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.

NEA’s online resources include historical timelines of the labor movement, lesson plans and research pieces examining the need for continued work on behalf of the American worker. A Tumblr page highlights images and messages of NEA members proudly demonstrating why they are #unionstrong.

To access NEA’s Labor Day resources, please visit


Follow NEA @NEAMedia #unionstrong

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez, (202) 822-7823,