Happy Labor Day
Writing in Forbes, Caitlin Kelly reminds us of all the people who have no choice but to work today, and who do not have secure, well paying jobs with benefits, of which there are fewer and fewer.
So much of our work is virtual, tapping on a keyboard or chatting via Slack – it’s worth remembering all the workers whose skills we rely on. Many jobs still are, and always will be, physically demanding, dangerous and sometimes overwhelming in their rigors.
She specifically mentions food service workers, chambermaids, janitors, home health aides and (it seemed odd to me in this mix) Airline pilots and flight attendants.
Workers at every wage, doing every form of toil, deserve our respect, not just on one designated day each year.
What follows is a repost of earlier Labor day coverage.
We always look for a green angle in any holiday, and a few years back a commenter found it for us:
This is a holiday about social justice, which is inseparable from environmental justice.
I have noted before that Labor day has Canadian roots, but the real reason we are celebrating it as a holiday celebrating labor is political; May Day was too pinko for Grover Cleveland. Brendan Koerner wrote in Slate
In 1894, after President Grover Cleveland ordered the brutal suppression of the Pullman Strike, he realized that he had to do something to curry favor with the labor movement, which viewed him with contempt. Worried that a May 1 holiday would encourage rabble-rousing in commemoration of the Haymarket Riot, he followed the lead of several states and made the first Monday in September a federal holiday in honor of the workingman.
A few years ago, our focus was on celebrating those who work with their hands.
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There is a price to pay for cheap energy and gas for our cars that goes beyond dollars, as we saw this year with the 29 dead miners in West Virginia and the 11 on the Deepwater Horizon platform in the Gulf. American labor used to make things and fix things, and used to be proud to do it, for a decent wage....But somehow over the last 50 years, America's business became one of building houses, cars and roads to get to the houses, digging up coal to make electricity to cool the houses, buying oil around the world to run the cars, and filling big box stores with cheap imported crap to fill the houses, all on borrowed money and subsidized by cheap gas.
I rather liked this quote, but readers found it sexist; It is over a hundred years old.
What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures, to make manhood more noble, womanhood more beautiful, and childhood more happy and bright.