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Retirees in Action

   Jim Carr  A message from PEF Retiree President Jim Carr

 

August 21, 2019

Labor Day’s our day, so show up and shine!

Monday September 2, 2019, is Labor Day, a day to celebrate the American labor movement.

It is the individual dedication and sacrifice of workers focused by the American labor movement that has brought us better wages, better working conditions, health insurance, job security, worker safety, workers’ rights, a 40-hour workweek, the weekend off and much more.

Strong and effective labor unions are a big part of any program that levels the playing field with large government or corporate employers.

In this post-Janus universe the only people benefiting from anti-union policies are people so rich they cannot possibly spend their money in ways to stimulate economic growth. So they spend it trying to destroy unions, the last defenders of our American middle class.

As union members and retirees, we should participate in our local community Labor Day events.

Labor Day is an annual holiday to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. In the United States, Labor Day is a federal holiday observed on the first Monday of September.

In the United States, Labor Day is customarily viewed as the end of the summer vacation season, although school starting times now may vary.

Labor Day has its origins in the labor union movement, specifically the eight-hour-workday movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. In the United States the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country. On February 21, 1887, Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, 30 states officially celebrated Labor Day.

For many countries, Labor Day is linked with International Workers’ Day, which occurs May 1.

For Americans we need to stop and appreciate the meaning of Labor Day as a civil holiday that is meant to remember when labor became organized and there was a grater emphasis on the dignity of the working person, not just the employer.

Labor Day developed as a way of showcasing the backbreaking labor that made America strong. Early Labor Day parades were made up of ordinary working people, who went to work, took pride in what they did, were paid a fair wage and reminded the country to be proud of its citizens. Together, we need to honor the labor movement both past and present.

Our country continues to depend on those who go to work daily. The workers may be public or private. They may work in hospitals, prisons, factories, schools, laboratories, research centers, or farms just to mention a few. Whenever labor happens, Americans are making it happen.

This weekend is for you! While it has become a national holiday where we rest from our labors, we do so to appreciate those who do labor. Dignity is an important quality that everyone is entitled to – Labor Day is a reminder of that dignity.

As we enjoy this Labor Day let’s take a moment and appreciate another’s labor! Celebrate America’s foundation of strength – the American worker and the history of our labor movement.

Something to think about – As a Minnesota farmer observed:

Pie Fork

“How big the pie is on the dinner table is only one half of the story of whether you will go hungry. The other half is how big your fork is.” It can’t be said any clearer than that.

Unless we find ways to work together through our unions, we will continue to come to the table with toothpicks while the financial elite come with shovels.


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