Labor Day Has Lost Meaning– Forgotten are the Achievements of the Union Movement: Labor Day is an Anachronism…

Labor Day has lost much of its meaning: Most countries in the world celebrate some kind of Labor Day: In the U. S., Labor Day marks a significant event and is celebrated on first Monday of September, each year. The roots, results of the Labor Movement in America are vitally important to the way everyone lives today…

In fact, the holiday was born from the ‘revolutionary’ idea that workers should be limited to laboring for only 8 hours a day; 8 hours of work + 8 hours of recreation + 8 hours of rest = the perfect formula for a happy and healthy life: At least that’s what labor leaders believed in the late 1800s… Prior to that workers (include child labor) had very few rights, protections and, in general, were supposed to be happy just to have employment no matter– the conditions, hours, demands or dangers involved…

Now for most people, Labor Day is something different and it means two things: day off, end of summer… rather than, a special day that been set aside to pay tribute to working men and women…

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The first Labor Day celebration was on Sept. 5, 1882, New York City. The workers’ unions chose the first Monday in September since it was halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving… The idea spread across the country and some states designated Labor Day as a holiday before the federal holiday was created…

President Grover Cleveland signed law that designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day nationwide… In European countries, China and other parts of the world; May Day, first day in May is a holiday to celebrate workers and labor unions. Membership in labor unions in the U. S. reached an all-time high in the 1950s when about 40% of the work force belonged to unions.

Today, union membership is about 10% of the working population… Now, Labor Day carries less significance as a celebration of working people– government offices and businesses are closed so that all the people can enjoy the day, but very little attention, if any, is giving to many accomplishments of the Labor Movement, and especially the many courageous labor leaders that fought tough battles for the rights of the worker…

According to Samuel Gompers; Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays– All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man’s prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation…

In the article Forgotten Meaning of Labor Day by Jack Marshall writes: Labor Day commemorates great ethical victory of American society, and not one in a hundred Americans know it– few people think about the real meaning of the word ‘labor’ in the name, and how it’s meant to honor brave, dedicated men and women who fought to ensure a measure of safety, consideration, fairness and justice for the hardest working among us…

Today labor unions are controversial– many have been run as criminal enterprises, with deep connections to organized crime; many operate in a blatantly coercive, undemocratic fashion. Union demands and strong-arm tactics, while providing security, good wages to members, have crippled some U.S. industries and limited jobs, as well.

Today the unions get publicity when one of them tries to protect a member who should be punished, as when the baseball players’ union fights suspensions for player insubordination or even drug use, or when school districts don’t fire incompetent teachers because of union power, or when members of public unions protest cutbacks in benefits that their private sector counterparts would be grateful for…

Many people feel that today’s unions often embodies an observation made by Eric Hoffer, a longshoremen philosopher, that: Every great cause begins as a movement, degenerates into a business and ends up as a racket… But the message of Labor Day has gotten lost: Labor Day is about the original labor movement that began at the end of the 19th century and rescued American workers from an industrial manufacturing system that was cruel, exploitative, deadly, often feudal…

Over the century the labor movement has produced many heroes who personify what Labor Day commemorates, and the many battles they won– against child labor, for fair wages and reasonable work hours, for employee benefits and concern for employee safety… These are achievements and epic story that all Americans should know and take pride on this day…

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In the article True Meaning of Labor Day by Eric Zorn writes: Unions have been far from saintly. I’d never argue that every demand they’ve ever made has been reasonable nor every concession they’ve won good for the general public but, we owe them. Even though only about 10% of the private work force in the U.S. now belongs to a union, most of the other 90% are beneficiaries of the organization of labor…

Maybe our parents raised us on union-level compensation– 38% higher than non-union in a 1995 study. Maybe we grew up in communities made more stable by the solid incomes and job security of neighbors with union jobs. Certainly we have enjoyed benefits of comparative domestic peace attributable to the large, union-bolstered middle class– bulwark of democracy...

According to Thomas Geoghegan; when it comes to many benefits, conditions and pay elevated by union standards and the threat of union formation, many non-union workers are, even now, taking a free ride… According to Sam Rosenberg; as union membership has declined over last two decades, so has share of income earned by working class...

The idea that technology or human moral evolution has rendered unions and laws that support them obsolete is as quaint as it’s apparently popular... According to Alberto Pupo; union membership is at an all time low and most states are adopting the ‘Right to Work Laws’, and Monday’s holiday smacks of insincerity and flat-out hypocrisy… Labor Day needs to be celebrated as a day that truly honors the worker…  

In the article How Labor Day Was Hijacked by David Sirota writes: Quite obviously, there been a transformation of Labor Day from an occasion to specifically honor worker solidarity into an apolitical vacation day… Los Angeles Times noted; the holiday is the creation of the labor movement, which wanted a holiday to honor workers– and highlight the need for labor reform laws… But, there are ways to take back true spirit of this holiday, if more people are simply reminded of what Labor Day is really all about, there’s a decent chance that we can restore its real significance. Here are just a few reminders:

  • Legislation creating Labor Day did not pass the Congress in response to Americans’ demand for yet one more reason to– sleep in, fire up the grill, drink beer, watch football…
  • Labor Day was not designed to give a day off to commemorate the end of summer nor to give parents a special day to hit the chain stores for back-to-school sales. It was designed to give us all a chance to honor, commemorate the American labor movement and all of its achievements for millions of workers – union and non-union alike…
  • Labor Day was not created to give you one last day to work on your tan or to get drunk in the park at an annual picnic. Labor Day was created to give you a day to attend or participate in some sort of public event showing solidarity with the American labor movement…
  • Labor Day was not designed to be cast as an apolitical holiday that everyone should pretend they honor because they simply support the apolitical notion of work. The ‘labor’ in Labor Day refers not to generic ‘work’ but to organized labor, as in unions…
  • Labor Day is not designed to be a day for anti-union politicians and corporations to say ‘Happy Labor Day’, and momentarily pretend they support the rights of American workers. It’s a day for Americans to speak out against union-busting activity and vitriolic anti-union rhetoric…

Societies face a dilemma that cannot be solved by more debt or more technology: How to distribute not just the output of the economy, but the work and responsibility so that everyone has an opportunity to contribute and earn their keep… According to Charles Hugh Smith; paying people to stay home and rot is not a solution, but neither is paying people more than they produce in competitive markets…

Of the three elements of civil society, the Market and the State have crowded out the Community. We either re-discover the labor-value of community or we devolve further into potentially ‘death spiral’ social, financial instability… According to Claudette Millette; to most people Labor Day symbolizes that summer is fading away and we are staring down face of autumn…

But, what is this holiday actually about? The observance of Labor Day began over 100 years ago, and born out of America’s labor unions… According to Samuel Gompers; the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed… that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it… A century after Samuel Gompers spoke these words this holiday has taken on different meanings to different people: It’s the end of summer, beginning of school, return of football…

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According to Phillip Wilson; many unions, for most part, have outlived their usefulness and are mainly able to thrive in non-competitive niches of the economy. Spending a bunch of money on trying to get people to join current unions is just a waste of time – there is just not enough lipstick for this pig. Instead unions need to re-think the supply demand curve for their offerings and re-make the bundle of services they offer to fit with the demands of modern employees and employers. If they insist on living in the past and maintaining their old model then it may be time to pull the plug… 

According to Fernando Rendon; most Americans don’t realize that it is a day to honor the common worker; craftsmen, laborers, trades workers… who built this great nation… The first few Labor Days were not officially recognized and workers who participated did so without pay and risked retaliation, losing their jobs and physical violence. At that time there was no such thing as an 8 hour day, overtime pay or a 40 hour work week.

Workers were little more than indentured servants… So on Monday as you are enjoying a day off with pay, think about the many job benefits that most people take for granted, e.g.: Overtime pay, vacations, bonuses, sick leave, weekends, pensions… Think of these things and realize that none of them were available until organized labor– fought, bargained… for them. Think of these things and try to understand the ‘true’ meaning of– Labor Day…