Labor Day History & Links

Today is Labor Day.

All work merits respect. We should treat other working people with respect. How we treat other working people is a mirror of the extent to which we respect ourselves.

( The picture above was taken by Danny Cornelissen for the portpictures.nl website.)

Here is a history of Labor Day from the U.S. Department of Labor.

From that history–

“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. More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers. Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.”

File:Construction worker.jpeg

Here is the web home of the AFL-CIO.

Here is an American labor movement history timeline from the AFL-CIO.

Here are a number of women’s labor history links from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. It is a very good list.

Here are black labor history links from AFSCME.

The history of labor in the United States is your history. Work is the time and effort of your life. We need the wages and benefits we earn at work to be able to live decent lives.

There is also an International Labor Day.  International Labor Day, or May Day, marks the Haymarket Riot in Chicago in 1886. Please click here to learn more about the Haymarket Riots and the Haymarket Trial.

Respect for working people involves understanding that the goods you buy must be sold for a fair price if the people who make and sell those goods are to receive a fair wage and good benefits. Selling these goods at a fair price also helps your employer stay in business.

Respect for working people does not stop at the American border. Cheap goods we purchase in America are often produced by underpaid and poorly treated workers in other nations.

Labor Day is, for many at least, a time to get a break from work.

It is also a time to reflect upon what it means to be a working person in a nation and a world where the rights of workers—to the extent they exist at all—are under ceaseless strain.

( Photo above by Holger Hubbs.)

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.

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A Letter to America

The Thirteeneth Juror

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