Today is Labor Day.

Many states bar collective bargaining.

Many have passed laws intended to extinguish or cripple labor unions.

Today, union membership in the United States has fallen to the lowest point in 97 years, according to the New York Times.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the total number of union members fell by 400,000 last year, to 14.3 million, even though the nation’s overall employment rose by 2.4 million. The percentage of workers in unions fell to 11.3 percent, down from 11.8 percent in 2011, the bureau found in its annual report on union membership. That brought unionization to its lowest level since 1916, when it was 11.2 percent, according to a study by two Rutgers economists, Leo Troy and Neil Sheflin.

Labor specialists cited several reasons for the steep one-year decline in union membership. Among the factors were new laws that rolled back the power of unions in Wisconsin, Indiana and other states, the continued expansion by manufacturers like Boeing and Volkswagen in nonunion states and the growth of sectors like retail and restaurants, where unions have little presence.”

Unions have also been hurt by outsourcing and free trade, which allows manufacturers to move jobs to low-wage countries.

Unions were a major stepping stone into the middle class for many immigrants and poor people, enabling them to have a living wage and decent working conditions.

With the loss of unions has come growing income inequality.

In most states, workers are on their own, with no one to speak up for their interests.

In honor of Labor Day 2013, I am posting some of the most famous labor songs, and you will see them pop up over the next few hours.

They should not be forgotten.

As conditions worsen for working people in the United States, they may be needed again.