Monday, September 7, 2009

Reclaiming Labor day

Labor day is nothing more than a day of grilling burgers, drinking beer, and - for may - not even getting the day off work. This is very sad. Labor day was originally a celebration of the labor movements. Organized labor greatly improved conditions for working people.

Not too long ago, workers worked 10-12 hour days, 7 days a week, year around. They had no workman's comp, no overtime, few holidays, no pensions, no benefits, no unions, no minimum wage and many worked as children before the labor movements abolished child labor.

Labor day was supposed to be a reminder of what workers achieved and a reminder of the importance of their rights. Sadly, no one thinks of these things any more when they celebrate labor day.

The following video from The History Channel on the origins and meaning of labor day is very informative. In it, we learn a little about the labor movement and how hard many working people fought for more humane working conditions.

If you look around you this labor day, you will find that the day has lost its meaning. Many Americans work on labor day (hardly fitting for a day in honor of workers' rights), and the dignity and rights of working people are not even thought about, let alone celebrated.

Labor day was meant to provide national recognition for working people: living wages, caps on hours, 2 days a week off, overtime, workman's comp, unions ... the great achievements of the labor movement are what we need to remember. Sadly, we live in a time where giant corporations and their tools in Washington have long been at work crushing unions, making sure wages don't go up too much, and undoing the rights of working people everywhere.

This Labor day, let us do more than light up the BBQ and drink cheap beer. Let's return power to the labor movement. Let us stand up together and demand that Washington listen to working people and not merely obey their corporate masters.

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