Mel Olsson Mystic Editor's Note: The writer is ast president of Marine Draftsmen's Association/UAW Local 571.
As a lifelong resident of Mystic, and a longtime union member, I've followed the clash between management and employees applying for a union at the Seaport with interest. For those formed by the successes of the union it is easy to forget that not everyone realizes how critical the unions have been for the average worker.
The present atmosphere between employer and employees has been increasingly strained as the workers have been stripped of rights and protections unions provide - especially in stagnant wages, loss of health care, fixed retirement planning and vacation time.
Take a peek back.
In 1786 Philadelphia printer's unions (referred to as guilds then) fought for increased wages; 1,791 carpenters, in Philadelphia, received a 10-hour day (from 12 hours).
And, throughout the 1800s unions won major benefits for railway workers, coal miners, and iron and steel workers, including an eight-hour day in 1890.
In 1935 the National Labor Relations Act and Social Security Act passed; and in 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act established the first minimum wage and 40-hour week.
We have always been proud of Mystic Seaport and hope to continue to look to the "Star of our Community" with the same pride.