This weekend, many are heading to the beach, enjoying a cook-out with friends and family, participating in and watching local parades, and hopefully having an all-around good time.
Let us reflect for just a moment on why the 1st Monday in September is more than just another holiday. Labor Day was created by the labor movement that began back in the late 19th century, becoming a federal holiday in 1894. The evolution of this movement was not always a pretty spectacle. It certainly had its share of hard knocks. Despite those obstacles, the movement survived.
During those early days, the average American worked 12 hour days and 7 day weeks just to eke out a living. Children as young as 5-6 years old were often forced to work in mills, factories and mines, earning fractions of the wages of adults. Not only were there long hours, there were unsafe and unsanitary working conditions and poor treatment by management.
Over the years, as manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of employment, it was the labor unions that rose to the top, becoming more vocal and more prominent. To combat these inequities against workers, labor unions began to organize strikes and rallies to protest poor working conditions and wages, compelling employers to renegotiate hours and pay.
Does any of this sound familiar? Today we have come full circle. As many of you can attest, workers and unions are again under assault in their efforts to maintain achievements made over the years to ensure job security, worker’s rights, and worker safety. Led by state legislatures and scam Right to Work laws, corporate greed and profiteering, stagnant and declining wages, and out-sourcing of jobs, the achievements of unions and workers are at risk and being threatened on a daily basis. That cannot be allowed to happen.
Labor Day encompasses recognition of the contributions of every man and woman who toils on a daily basis to contribute value to our society, from teachers, farmers, carpenters, plumbers and all of the other’s that are too numerous to count. Their efforts don’t just require physical and mental sacrifice, but sacrifices for their families as well.
So as you sit back and relax this weekend, enjoy the time with your family, pause for just a moment to remember and think about today’s labor and union movement. Any regression of the contributions of unions should be repelled at every level. Yesterday was then, today is now. The question for tomorrow is what does the future hold for unions, workers and their families?
And, just for the record, Labor Day is not just another holiday.