I proudly wear suits made by union workers ten miles from my house in Cleveland, and on the lapel of those suits, instead of the official Senate pin, I always wear a pin depicting a canary in a birdcage. It was given to me more than a decade ago by an Ohio Steelworker at a Workers Memorial Day rally. The canary represents the progress we have made for workers in this country – and how our fight for American workers continues today.
In the early days of the 20th century, coal miners took a canary down into the mines with them to warn them of poisonous gases – if the canary stopped singing, they knew they had mere minutes to get out. Those workers didn’t have a union strong enough or a government that cared enough to protect them.
Throughout the 20th century, we changed all that. We passed worker safety laws and overtime pay. We banned child labor. We passed clean air and clean drinking water laws. We fought for Social Security and Medicare, and workers’ rights and women’s rights and civil rights. And in all of these fights, it was ordinary workers who took on powerful special interests, and changed this country for the better.
But our fight isn’t over. We continue that struggle today, and it's why every day in the Senate I fight to make sure hard work pays off for American workers.