History of Labor Day, and Out-of-work Force | NESHEAHOLIC

Monday, September 5, 2011

History of Labor Day, and Out-of-work Force

Someone asked me on my formspring What does Labor Day mean to you?

I honestly don't think I'd ever thought more of Labor Day than a sign of the end of the summer, and a three day weekend, so I looked it up on Wikipedia to actually see why Labor Day started.

Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September beginning 1894 that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.

So then I'm thinking, what made Congress give a federal holiday to the work force? This question led me to information on the Pullman Strike. The Pullman Strike was a nationwide conflict between labor unions and railroads after the Pullman Palace Car Company cut employee wages leading workers to strike, walk off the job, obstruct railroad tracks and threaten and attack strikebreakers. Obviously, the railroad industry was HUGE at this time, and this kind of national disruption of service warranted federal action. US Marshals and Army troops were brought into the situation, leading to deaths and injuries of strikers, and huge amounts of property damage on the part of the ex rail workers. After all of this "drama" ensued President Grover Cleveland and Congress made appeasement of organized labor a top priority. The legislation for the holiday was pushed through Congress six days after the strike ended. Six days...if only legislation could be passed that fast nowadays...

Reading through all of this made me think of the current labor force. We're a long way away from the time when most jobs were trades, and there were a small number of industries a person could get in. The types of work have expanded, but it seems the problems of old still haunt us. Just recently we had the Verizon strike over pensions and health care. And strikes in the sporting industries are also common. Why is that?

Why, is because the workers, the people completely dependent on working for the business of someone else, are always the expense to cut back on when times get tough, and that is unfortunate, but it seems to be the way of business for a very long time. But I suppose looking at it from the other end you have to question, what are businesses suppose to cut, if not people, without making the quality of their product suffer? In some cases, cutting jobs or health care or benefits are the only option left for a business owner, and in others, people are hacked while the top bosses still fly in private jets and walk on oriental rugs.

THIS thought of course made me think of what could help the problem of the unemployed, and that would be... more jobs. I would argue that a huge part of the "not enough jobs" issue is that so many companies in America outsource jobs to other countries for cheaper labor, which does nothing to help the out-of-work force in the US,the people who find Labor Day to be another reminder of their struggle.

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