Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day

Today is the day America celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of workers to our society, and I think it’s great to have a holiday or and about common people.  Here is a history of Labor day, provided vy the US Bureau of Labor.


labor-day "Labor Day differs in every essential from the other holidays of the year in any country," said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. "All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation."

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.

Founder of Labor Day

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 co-founder 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.

The First Labor Day

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 Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, l883.

In l884 the first Monday in September was selected as the 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 l885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Labor Day Legislation

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 2l, l887. During the year four more states -- Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York -- created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

A Nationwide Holiday

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were 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. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. 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 character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio and television.

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.

[Source: United States Department of Labor]

Inserted from <USGovInfo>

No before my friends from the lynch me, but ever so politely, let me admit that our government has failed to mention that before it was Labor Day, it was Labour Day.

Canada-Labour-Day The holiday originated in Canada out of labor disputes ("Nine-Hour Movement") first in Hamilton, then in Toronto, Canada in the 1870s, which resulted in a Trade Union Act which legalized and protected union activity in 1872 in Canada. The parades held in support of the Nine-Hour Movement and the printers' strike led to an annual celebration in Canada. In 1882, American labor leader Peter J. McGuire witnessed one of these labor festivals in Toronto. Inspired from Canadian events in Toronto, he returned to New York and organized the first American "labor day" on September 5 of the same year.

Inserted from <Wikipedia>

Now, as wonderful as it is to wave the flag and celebrate labor, let us not forget that workers’ rights and ability to form and join unions has been seriously curtailed by the GOP No Billionaire Left Behind program.

pro labor For the past thirty years, the gospel of lean and mean has reordered the world of work, setting off a race to the bottom in which employers circumvent and evade standards that once seemed inviolate. That race has now taken us to a logical low point: many employers are ignoring workplace laws altogether.

Take the restaurant workers who line up for paychecks after twelve hours of work only to be told there's no money, or the nursing home aide who routinely works well into the night without extra pay, or the temp worker who packs food in an ice-cold warehouse without protective gear only to have the temp agency illegally deduct money from her wages every week.

This is just a sampling of the ways America's laws are failing to protect workers at the start of the twenty-first century. And until recently, public agencies often lacked the resources or political will to respond to such abuses. As Congressional investigators documented shortly after President Obama took office, employers who violate minimum wage and overtime laws are rarely caught or prosecuted.

Inserted from <The Nation>

So if we’re serious about celebrating labor, wouldn’t the the best celebration be to press Congress to pass a meaningful restoration of workers’ rights?

Happy Labor Day to you all!


the walking man said...

It is good to know the history TC, very good. In knowing what was we know what can be again. Return our manufacturing base to these shores and let the people eat from their own labor.

TomCat said...

I know Mark. While never a union member myself, I was fully upset that Bush and the GOP used taxpayers' money to pay US companies to relocate overseas so they could increase proits for the rich and evade taxes.

ivan said...

Interesting about Toronto and Labor Day.

....I'm just thinking. Tony Blair had been elected bearing the Labor party's standard.

Yikes. Mr. Bush's footstool!

libhom said...

Good job of discussing Labor Day and labor history.

leftdog said...

Happy Labor Day to my American friends! (in Canada we spell it differently ... LABOUR DAY ... )

TomCat ... I missed you man! Welcome back to the land of the Living Blogs!!

Jo said...

Tom, you beat me to it. I was about to tell you that Labour Day actually first began in Canada. My father was very active in unions, and he told me the history of Labour Day.

Unfortunately, the labour movement is not as strong as it once was.

TomCat said...

LOL, Ivan. Now there's a revolting memory. I used to have a wonderful 'Bush's poodle graphic.

Thanks libhom, and welcome!

Thanks JimDawg. Great to see you again. You're blog rolled, followed, and commented.

Josie, I when I worried about a polite lynching in the article, I was thinking of you. ;-) Unfortunately it is not as strong here either.

an average patriot said...

Glad to be back huh Bud? I am still busy working outside the house for a few days but you are the only one I saw posting on this important day. To me this and the 4th of July are my two favorites and the most important!

Annette said...

Thanks TomCat for finding me worthy of your blog.. I feel very honored to be in such company. This is great to see the history of Labor Day for all to see.. Most people don't know and especially the younger set, don't know the real history of many of our holidays or even the important days we "celebrate" all they know is it's a day off from school or work.

Thanks again and I will try very hard to live up to the honor.

Brother Tim said...

Unfortunately, if the Republicans ever get back in power, Labor Day may be a thing of the past. It will probably be replaced with Corporation Day, in which all labor will be required to work the day for free. ;)

TomCat said...

Hi Jim. I think that most folks were just out doing family things, but a this post drew a lot of hits on from Google, and we had over 800 visitors yesterday. Remind me to get you on my blog roll. I'm rushed today.

Hi Annette. No honor at all. We all have our own points of view, and from what I have seen of yours, I feel very impressed!

Brother, you are underestimating the Repuglicans. Make that working a 16 hour day for free.

an average patriot said...

Yo are alright Tom. After that hiatus 800 hits in one day. On my site that takes a month!