Mark Lee at a Union Meeting

In Praise of Unions

Those who would destroy or further limit the rights of organized labor – those who would cripple collective bargaining or prevent organization of the unorganized do a disservice to the cause of democracy.

Fifty years or so ago the American Labor Movement was little more than a group of dreamers, and look at it now. From coast to coast, in factories, stores, warehouses and business establishments of all kinds, industrial democracy is at work.

Employees, represented by free and democratic trade unions of their own choosing, participate actively in determining their wages, hours and working conditions. Their living standards are the highest in the world. Their job rights are protected by collective bargaining agreements. They have fringe benefits that were unheard of less than a generation ago.

Our labor unions are not narrow, self-seeking groups. They have raised wages, shortened hours, and provided supplemental benefits. Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, they have brought justice and democracy to the shop floor. But their work goes beyond their own jobs, and even beyond our borders.

Our unions have fought for aid to education, for better housing, for development of our national resources, and for saving the family-sized farms. They have spoken, not for narrow self-interest, but for the public interest and for the people.

– John F. Kennedy
(October 1960)

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the consideration.

– Abraham Lincoln (1861)

Those who would destroy or further limit the rights of organized labor – those who would cripple collective bargaining or prevent organization of the unorganized – do a disservice to the cause of democracy.

– John F. Kennedy

In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as ‘right work.’ It provides no rights and no work. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining. We demand this fraud be stopped.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

There’s a direct relationship between the bread box and the ballot box, and what the union fights for and wins at the bargaining table can be taken away in the legislative halls.

– United Auto Workers President Walter Reuther

Labor Groups

Union History:

Mark Lee's grandfather Mark's father, Gerald Lee, on the right, a union pipefitter

Mark’s great-grandfather, Albert Lee, was an organizing and founder member of Pipefitter’s Local No. 597 in Chicago, Illinois.  His brother, Gerald M. Lee, represents the fourth generation of his family to work as a pipefitter out of Local No. 597.

In 1978, Mark’s father moved the family from Chicago, Illinois to Decatur, Illinois. He was offered a job working for Illinois Power in the construction of the Clinton Nuclear Power Station.

Upon graduation from high school Mark began work as an apprentice pipefitter at the Clinton Power Station in Clinton, IL, out of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local No. 65 in Decatur, Illinois before attending law school.

Union Activities:

Union Members with Mark LeeCement Mason's state conference

Every year, Mark speaks at and attends many union events. These include union meetings, executive board meetings, trade and labor councils and building trade council meetings.

Mark has also walked picket lines with striking workers providing food and drink for those on strike. Previously, Mark has walked the picket lines with striking American Federation of State County and Municipal workers against Decatur, IL, striking Boilermakers at the Celanese Plant in Meredosia, IL and striking union members of the Bakery, Confectionary and Tobacco workers union against Mel-O-Crème donuts in Springfield, IL.

If you are a union member or official and would like Mark to address your meeting please do not hesitate to call.  The Law Office of Mark N. Lee also helps sponsor union activities such as golf tournaments, Labor Day parades and Holiday parties. For golf tournaments, we have golf balls and goody bags for the members. For Holiday parties and labor events, we have party favors as well as placemats with pro-union information.

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