“Workers are under attack” is a phrase we hear frequently in Pennsylvania from labor unions and allies of working families. Sadly, these words have never been so true as they are today despite the labor movement thread into the founding of this country.

This Labor Day as we celebrate the historic achievements of unions and working women and men across the country, it’s important not only to reflect on the victories the labor movement continues to build and expand on, but to also unpack the forces behind the frequent, blatant attacks on working families – throughout America and here in Pennsylvania – and explicitly call out those standing in the way of continued social progress.

Pennsylvania has a long, storied history of broad support for labor unions. We see it plainly in the historic plaques across the state recognizing union and individual contributions to the labor movement and Pennsylvania’s history throughout its growth. Philadelphia is home to both the first strike in the building trades profession and the first local union organized to collectively bargain for better and more just working conditions. The first attempt at workers having influence in a company’s success through profit sharing took place at a glass factory in New Geneva. Mother Jones, a community organizer and labor hero, embarked upon a historic march protesting unenforced child labor laws in Pennsylvania, taking supporters directly to President Teddy Roosevelt’s home. In addition, our state’s steelworkers, coalminers and public sector unions have all won hard fought victories for working families in order to provide a path to a brighter future for all. Today, we’re witnessing a new generation of the labor movement taking root in Pennsylvania with strikes by fast food workers and the victories recently won by homecare, communication and airport workers.

Pennsylvania union members and the working class throughout the state celebrate these victories and our shared progress towards making our society the most just and fair one in the world. Without workers joining together in unions to continually agitate and organize for economic, social, and racial justice, we would not see nearly the advancement on these issues as we see currently. While we still have much work to do, today is a day we celebrate just how far we have come in this country’s short history.

Yet despite all the social progress unions have advocated for, workers remain under attack. Throughout history, oligarchs have attempted to hold workers back and break the solidarity that bonds sisters and brothers of the labor movement together. In the past, we’ve seen how profiteers and robber barons used their clout, influence and intimidation to try and shut down unions. Likewise, in recent history, multinational corporations outsourced jobs depleting industries that comprised our middle-class. Simultaneously, governments privatize services under the false premise that the free market can deliver them better completely ignoring that public sector jobs have long been a ladder to the middle class and a better life for countless citizens. While the tactics may have changed throughout history, the strategy to prevent workers from standing in solidarity has not.

Today, Pennsylvanians continue to see a coordinated attack on workers and the unions they’ve built. To be clear, at the heart of this struggle are two components: power and money. These groups go by many different names throughout the nation. Here in Pennsylvania, corporate funders and right-wing extremists have set up the Commonwealth Foundation. While portraying themselves as protectors of economic markets, they’re simply a front for right-wing funders. Unlike unions, their support and power isn’t built by millions of people coming together to advocate for a more just future. Rather, their support comes from a few wealthy extremists who have given large sums of money to the Commonwealth Foundation. Their funders advocate against everything the labor movement fights for: social, economic, and racial justice. The entire point of this organization is to stop workers from accumulating power on the side of working families and keep money and wealth in the hands of the 1%. They’ve spelled this out themselves in a leaked fundraising appeal to their wealthy contributors titled “Project Goliath.” They plan to chip away at the very policies that have given back wealth to workers throughout this state.

Though they work hard to hide their true goals, what we’re seeing is nothing new. Working women and men have overcome bigger obstacles before. It’s the same fight we’ve withstood throughout history and which workers have banded together to triumph over. This Labor Day, as we reflect on the victories, challenges, and opportunities we have as a movement, it’s important to understand this.

The power of workers does not come from wealthy, special interests. Those who try and unfairly paint working families as a special interest are incredibly removed from the reality most Pennsylvanians live in. Workers’ power comes from families standing together in recognition that we all face challenges and that only by standing together will we overcome them. An organized people is always more powerful than organized money. Happy Labor Day and enjoy your day. You’ve fought for it. And you deserve it.