Today was Labor Day in the US, the [un]official end of summer: sales, barbecues, flags and fun, right? (Hey, I went for the sales myself. Didn’t find anything, but I went!)
But what Labor Day is actually about is the “labor” in “organized labor”–you know, labor unions. A day for workers to rest, yes, but also a day for workers to get together, to parade, to gather strength from each other.
Image from Wikimedia Commons
As Samuel Gompers, head of the AFL, said in 1898 (four years after Labor Day became a federal holiday), Labor Day is:
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 may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it. (source)
So, on your way to your end-of-summer celebration, take a minute or two to think about–and maybe even discuss–the courage and determination of the workers who joined together to create American labor unions, who stood up to every kind of pressure up to and including armed violence, and without whom we wouldn’t have a 5-day work week, an 8-hour work day, limits on child labor, safe(r) working conditions, a minimum wage, and many other other aspects of working conditions in the US that we take for granted.
All things well worth celebrating!