Labor Day 2011

Holiday to honor American workers got started at the local level in the 1880′s.
When the Labor Day holiday began is well documented.
Who first suggested the holiday isn’t as clear-cut.
The Labor Day holiday was first proposed in 1882, according to the U. S. Department of Labor’s website.
Some historians say Peter McGuire, the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was first to suggest a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”
However, many historians credit Matthew Maguire, a machinist, with first suggesting the holiday.
They say Maguire, who later became secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.
Either way, the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal that year and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.
The first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City under the guidance of the Central Labor Union.
A second Labor Day was observed a year later on Sept. 5, 1883, in New York.
In 1884, the labor union selected the first Monday of September as the day to celebrate Labor Day. It urged other municipalities to observe a “workingmen’s holiday” on that same date.

Labor Day 2011
Labor Day.

Historically, workers around the world have celebrated the struggles of labor.
Canadian labor history claims that unions in Ottawa organized a parade in 1872 to demonstrate their discontent with laws that made unions illegal. Some credited the Carpenters Union as sponsoring the first Labor Day parade in New York City in 1882 where 10,000 workers marched, under threat of losing their jobs. In Paris in 1889, in response to the demonstration for the eight-hour day that turned deadly in Haymarket Square in Chicago, May 1 or “May Day” was selected as a day for international celebration of the worker.
In Tennessee, Labor Day has been a legal holiday since 1891. Legislation creating a national holiday was not enacted until 1894, with pressure from the Pullman Strike in the railroad industry and interference with mail delivery. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “[t]he vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known. … It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.”
This contribution has not been without struggle. This year we recognized the anniversary of several significant events in labor history such as the 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York, where nearly 150 young women working in sweatshop conditions died. We celebrated miners in West Virginia who marched across Blair Mountain in 1921 to bring the union to the Southern coalfields, the same miners who provided the fuel for the industrial revolution and our nation’s industrial growth after World War II. Ten years ago, a fire at a chicken plant in North Carolina killed 25 and injured many more — due to the lack of state inspections and blocked exists.

How do we cancel a national holiday? Do we need a Constitutional amendment, a presidential decree or permission from the tea party? Or will a national online vote be enough?
Poor Labor Day. Has any federal holiday been more battered and abused in recent years? Has any federal holiday been derided and de-emphasized the way this one has? The meaning has been lost and its history, noble as it was so long ago, forgotten.
No longer do we look at it for what it was meant to be — a celebration of the American worker. Now it’s merely looked on as the end of summer, the start of school, the last significant paid day off until Thanksgiving and, perhaps most important, the start of the football season.
It is now a pallid cousin to Memorial Day, the traditional start of summer with the unassailable precedent of honoring our war dead. Labor Day is about the worker and today, there just aren’t enough of those anymore, are there?
As if to poke the holiday in the eye just one more time, the August jobs report came out Friday — you know, three days before the celebration of Labor Day — and offered the barely comprehensible fact that no new jobs were created last month. None. It’s the first time since 1945 such a figure has been reported.
How is this possible?
Unemployment remains too high at 9.1 percent and that doesn’t even take into account all those people who have taken jobs far below their skill level just so they can work.
Unions, once the backbone of this nation, are under fire everywhere in America. State governments, led by Scooter Walker in Wisconsin and repeated in state houses across the nation, have taken union collective bargaining rights away and basically told workers to be thankful they have a job at all.
Unions were once viewed as the protector of workers. Now too many people view unions as some liberal gravy train.

Comments are closed.