I’m amazed at how many people are confused about why we celebrate the holidays that we do. Labor day is a federal holiday when most Americans have the good fortune of getting the day off. I have to admit, in my 34 years it has only been recently that the meaning of labor day has meant anything to me. To me it has always meant a time for vacations, time off from school or work, cookouts, and fun, but it’s so much more than that. It is also very different from any of our other holidays. It’s not to celebrate a person, or the sacrifices the military has made for our freedom, or the fact that we have freedom at all. It’s about the people. It’s about us. It’s about the blood, sweat, and tears that the American people have put in to our country to make it great and prosperous.
Lets take a walk back in history…. today we hear the term “union” and we think of something bad, because we are taught that unions are bad, and in some ways they are right. Some of the unions today are really good, they allow for some of the best paying jobs with some of the most well treated employees with amazing healthcare. In other respects they do little to nothing but make workers lives harder. However, at one time unions were a really good thing.
Labor day all started with the labor movement. The labor movement involved organizing labor to get regulations on workplace rights, wages, working hours, and other working conditions. Without unions and without the labor movement we would not have the strict regulations on labor that we have now. The regulations that employers are currently trying very hard to break. They sponsored their own political parties, they wanted a break from elitism, they wanted their own rights as workers. Sounds familiar right?
Labor day itself is said to have been prompted by the Pullman strike. A strike where railroad employees were boycotting the railroads and factories because the company cut wages of all their employees. During the course of the strike the United States Army and US Marshals were ordered by Grover Cleveland to break up the strike. In the end 13 strikers were killed and 57 wounded.
This is about workers fighting for the rights that you currently have. The rights for 40 hour weeks, for breaks, for weekends, for equal pay, for it to be illegal to decrease pay, all of that. All of these laws that employer are now trying to work around, to find loopholes for.
We should celebrate labor day as workers, as people who deserve respect and fair and equal pay. We deserve a living wage. We deserve to be treated like people, not like slaves for our CEOs. Make a stand for the people who fought for our rights. They did not die so that we can be slaves to our employers