Happy 130th Birthday

September 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Happy 130th Birthday, [Organized] Labor Day!

On this Labor Day, let’s remember its origins in the ranks of organized labor. But first, a look at which workers we’re celebrating today.

Who’s unionized now?  (Source: Huffington Post: Labor Day History: 11 Facts You Need to Know)

Service station attendants 96,000

Musicians, singers and related workers 179,000

Bakers 183,000

Pharmacists 232,000

Firefighters: 258,000

Chefs and head cooks: 281,000

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs 286,000

Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists: 718,000

Farmers and ranchers 825,000

Teachers 6.5 million

Not to mention health care workers, police and many other professions.

The following is an excerpt from the US Department of Labor’s description of the history of Labor Day. In these days when the organized labor represents fewer and fewer workers (about 11% of the US workforce today, down from 20% in 1983. source), it’s important to remember this holiday that was created by and for union workers!

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country…

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union… The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country…

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families… Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

 

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