– American Workers and Labor Day –
What Does It Mean?
Labor Day is a celebration of worker’s rights and the victories and triumphs that the labor movement has gained over the last couple of centuries. Many people, including many people that I know personally, think of Labor Day as just another holiday where you have a 3-day holiday weekend, and maybe plan a picnic or some kind of celebration with family and friends. Many of us don’t really take the time to consider what Labor Day is all about.
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. More than 10,000 workers marched from New York’s City Hall to Union Square. After the parade they enjoyed a picnic, concert, and speeches at Reservoir park with their families.
The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.
In 1884, the first Monday in September was chosen as the official holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885, Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.
Today, although Labor Day is a national holiday observed by most Americans, the character of celebrations has changed, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proven to be a problem. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in broadcast and print media. Except for maybe Wisconsin ….
Republicans Banned from Labor Day Parade in Wisconsin
Public Employees Stripped of Collective Bargaining Rights
by State GOP
A group of Wisconsin union officials has voted to ban Republic politicians from a local Labor Day parade, underscoring how partisan the state has become in the wake of this year’s clashes over collective bargaining rights.
The Marathon County Central Labor Council, which sponsors the parade, includes some 30 local unions. Council President Randy Radtke said in a statement on the group’s website “that politicians are only welcome at the festivities if they have demonstrated support for workers’ rights.”
“It should come as no surprise that organizers choose not to invite elected officials who have openly attacked worker’s rights or stood idly by while their political party fought to strip public workers of their right to collectively bargain,” Radtke said. “It is a time for working families to come together to celebrate their hard work and a time where we recognize the labor movement for all they have given us – the weekend, the 40 hour work week, child labor protection, a safe work environment.”
In February, the 14 Democratic members of the Wisconsin state Senate left the state to deny their GOP colleagues a quorum and prevent them from pushing forward Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) controversial budget repair bill, which stripped most of the collective bargaining rights from public employees. Republicans were eventually able to pass the measure and all but one GOP state senator voted for it.
– Paying Tribute to the American Worker –
In one way or another … at one time or another …
that may include just about every American …
While this conflict in Wisconsin continues, it’s important for all americans to remember that the vital force of labor has added significantly and materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has every known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy.
Regardless of what your political leanings are, whether or not you believe in the union movement, whether or not you are a democrat or a republic (or an independent), whether or not you believe in the Tea Party, it is not only appropriate – it is essential – that the nation and its Americans pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership – the American worker.
And in one way or another, at one time or another, I think that may include just about every American.