Tag Archives: Labor Day

Labor Day celebrates earning a living, but remember what work really means

Doing a job to help other people can give greater meaning to work. Photo by Eddie Kopp for Unsplach, CC BY-ND

Richard Gunderman, Indiana University

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. employment is dire. Economists estimate that 1 in 5 workers have lost their jobs. As a result, many people are finding it difficult to keep a roof overhead and put food on the table. Yet there can be more to work, and Labor Day provides an opportunity to see how through the writings of a woman who thought especially deeply about it, Simone Weil.

Weil looked at work as more than an exchange of money for labor. She argued that people need to work not only for income but also for the experience of labor itself. From her perspective, money does not solve the core problems of joblessness. Instead, work provides vital opportunities to live more fully by helping others. Continue reading

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Have we forgotten the true meaning of Labor Day?

The first Labor Day was hardly a national holiday. Workers had to strike to celebrate it. Frank Leslie’s Weekly Illustrated Newspaper’s September 16, 1882

Jay L. Zagorsky, Boston University   Published 8-29-2017

Labor Day is a U.S. national holiday held the first Monday every September. Unlike most U.S. holidays, it is a strange celebration without rituals, except for shopping and barbecuing. For most people it simply marks the last weekend of summer and the start of the school year.

The holiday’s founders in the late 1800s envisioned something very different from what the day has become. The founders were looking for two things: a means of unifying union workers and a reduction in work time. Continue reading

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As Trump Obscures Anti-Worker Record Ahead of Labor Day, New Report Details His Actual Worker Agenda: ‘Drop Dead’

“Trump has betrayed America’s workforce, sacrificing lives at the altar of industry profits.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-1-2018

“The Trump administration has systematically dismantled fundamental health and safety protections, and undermined the very agency tasked with safeguarding America’s workforce,” Public Citizen’s Shanna Devine wrote in a new report. Photo: pxhere (Public Domain)

In the week leading up to Labor Day, President Donald Trump’s vicious anti-worker agenda has been on full display: In addition to abruptly canceling a modest pay raise for around two million public employees on Thursday, Trump also signed a retirement savings executive order that was denounced as a gift to Wall Street and “a cruel joke on American workers” facing a retirement income crisis.

Yet, as if none of these latest attacks on American workers took place, the White House issued its annual Presidential Labor Day Proclamation late Friday, touting what it describes as Trump’s “historic action to advance prosperity for the American worker.” Continue reading

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Post Labor Day

By Gretschman for Occupy World Writes

Violence in Chicago escalated when federal troops came to break the 1894 Pullman factory strike, as illustrated in this drawing from Harper's Weekly. More than one thousand rail cars were destroyed, and 13 people were killed. (Photo courtesy Chicago Historical Society) via WikiMediaCommons.

Violence in Chicago escalated when federal troops came to break the 1894 Pullman factory strike, as illustrated in this drawing from Harper’s Weekly. More than one thousand rail cars were destroyed, and 13 people were killed. (Photo courtesy Chicago Historical Society) via WikiMediaCommons.

As we read about yesterday, the Right -to -Work (for less) folks don’t believe in honoring “Labor Day” since the holiday has the connotation of honoring organized labor.

Yesterday marked the 120th anniversary of the United States holiday known as “Labor Day”.

in 1894 President Grover Cleveland asked Congress to declare a holiday celebrating “labor” on the first Monday in September. The reasons behind his request were as convoluted as the Freedom Foundation”s decision to work on Labor Day- if you go to their website, you will find out that they took the Friday before Labor Day as a holiday. (yes we boycott the national holiday, but we WILL take a day off anyway) NO hypocrisy there, correct?

Labor unrest had been so prevalent in 1894 that President Cleveland had called out the National Guard to try to quell the national railroad strike.  The Guard was ineffective at getting the striking workers back to work, and the leader of the American Railway Union, Eugene Debs, was imprisoned for 18 months for contempt of court for not calling off the strike when ordered to. A Federal Judge actually halted the strike by placing an injunction against the strike on the grounds that  the strike interfered with the delivery of the US Mail, most of the which was delivered by train in 1894.

Why did President Cleveland ask for the date to be in September? Because May 1 had already become an international day to celebrate “Labor”. Cleveland did not want the celebration in the United States to become “radicalized” by celebrating at the same time as other labor celebrations around the world.

Labor Day offered a day for organized labor to celebrate its’ achievements of a less than twelve hour workday and the 5 day work week. In the last 120 years, Labor Day ‘s significance has been a mirror to what is going on in the labor movement in the United States. Today the struggles with blatant hostility against unions shown by the Koch Brothers, the Tea Party, Walmart and other corporate “citizens” show us that ‘Labor Day’ is still a day hard fought for. (I think Walmart ran a “Labor Day Sale” promotion- although those workers did NOT get the day off.) The flip side of that fight is the fact that fast food workers and day care workers are seeing that union representation is part of the key to a better life.

Only time will tell if the United States will still have a Labor Day holiday 120 years from now. if so, what will be the reasons it is celebrated? If not, what will be the catalyst for it to no longer be significant?

LIVE BETTER, WORK UNION. We at Occupy World Writes hope you enjoyed your labor day for all the right reasons.



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