I’ve become convinced that a lot of people believe that Labor Day in the United States was invented to give those lazy workers a three-day weekend just before the summer ends. From the Census Bureau: “The first observance of Labor Day was likely on Sept. 5, 1882, when some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City for a parade. That celebration inspired similar events across the country, and by 1894 more than half the states were observing a “workingmen’s holiday” on one day or another. Later that year, with Congress passing legislation and President Grover Cleveland signing the bill on June 29, the first Monday in September was designated “Labor Day.” This national holiday is a creation of the labor movement in the late 19th century — and pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers.”
It’s long been my contention that all of the gains made by the American labor movement in the last century or so most people take for granted such as minimum wage and restrictions on child labor.
Workers on the “public dole” such as teachers and firefighters were castigated as greedy a couple years back by Tea Party favorites such as Governor Scott Walker (R-WI). Now we are seeing in Detroit, and soon in a US city near you, workers who postponed raises in favor of money going into their pensions have discovered that those accounts were not funded properly, and that they may have to back to work. Many workers in this class are not eligible for Social Security benefits since they did not pay into that system.
The state of labor, at least in the USA, is shaky at best, with a slow economic recovery – unemployment still well above 7% – and little political will to raise a laughable minimum wage.
Happy Labor Day.