Monday, September 04, 2006


Happy Labor Day!

From Wikipedia:

"Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country. 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." - Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor.

"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, 1883."

I believe we do need to be glad for what labor unions have given us. Workers need protections, and we all need decent wages and a 40-hour work week with at least a little bit of guaranteed vacation time, time for bereavement leave, maternity leave, even paternity leave. Employers who look after their employees' health should also be commended and thanked.

There are those who will blame unions for many of our nation's problems. Here in Oregon, there is an anti-unions advertisement being aired on TV that depicts public employees bragging about having long vacations, high wages, great benefits, etc... and all they say they have are of course exaggerations by the rightist union-buster wannabes. But I think the perpetrators of that kind of crap are missing the point by asking the wrong questions. Instead of being jealous of those who work in the public sector, those who work in the private sector should demand more of the kinds of things they perceive the public sector as having. What they seem to ask is "Why don't I have it as good as them?" and then their actions seem to say "If I can't have it, I'm going to work to see that they can't have it either!" Instead, maybe they should be asking "Why don't all employees have decent living wages and benefits?" and then saying "Let's do something positive to make that happen!" It CAN happen. There is a big pie, and everyone CAN have a piece of it. The more of us that are healthy and happy, the stronger our country will be.

I know it wouldn't necesarily be easy being a CEO of a large corporation, because it seems like to have a successful company there would have to be good leadership. Nonetheless I think some of those people can get by on far less than a couple hundred million a year. I would love to see an era of corporate responsibility toward employees ushered in, in which the CEOs would still make a nice salary as their reward for building and guiding their organization, but not at a rate of pay hundreds of times what their employees make. There are some of them who could stand to celebrate their workers more, treat them better, and show them some appreciation.

But even though Labor Day may have its origins in unionism, I don't think it should necessarily be a call to unionists, or that it needs to be a celebration only of unions and their positive contributions as much as it ought to be a celebration of our nation's workforce in general. Our workforce makes our nation strong, whether our workers labor in the public or private sector. Today is a day to celebrate American ingenuity and the American work ethic, and how it has helped our country to the position of greatness we are at today.

Now, go enjoy your hotdogs and hamburgers!! 8-)>


Blogger Tom Harper said...

Happy Labor Day. Great post. Like you said, unions gave us the weekend, medical coverage, paid vacations, breaks, paid overtime. The people who complain the loudest about unions would be having a mass tantrum if these benefits were taken away from them.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that we could also celebrate the American belief in labor as restorative, as a way to better oneself, as a way to provide a better life for oneself and one's family. This has fueled American progress for a couple of centuries.

It is truly sad that even this idea is under attack.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Happy Labor Day to you as well. I had a carnivore-fest with the family. Meat, wrapped in meat, placed between slices of meat loaf (which stood in for a loaf of bread). I don't know why, my family goes meat crazy on holidays, hoo.

I won't be posting on cerulean blue but I will definitely be haunting my favorite blogs, yours being one of the absolutely bestests and funniest. I love Various Miseries, so I should be by frequently. And if I'm ever that will be had. Oh yes, it shall be consumed in herculean quantities. Also we'll knock over a bank or two, for kicks. Anyway my friend, talk to you soon...

8:37 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

Good points, Snave. Especially about why people don't try to attain better benefits, etc.

I've never understood why Americans aren't more envious
of the long vacations Europeans
take. Sometimes we seem like
a remarkably subservient nation (or at least the middle and lower classes).

9:26 PM  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

Oh, so Labor Day isn't about selling shit at cut rate prices today and today only?

(yep, that's a snark bite)

8:07 AM  
Blogger 1138 said...

We could Kvatch but I'd suggest that it then wouldn't be labor day, even slaves toil under a word called labor.
No this holiday (do we dare call it that in the face of NeoChristians?) is one for American Labor, our form of a May Day celebrating the success and rightful place of the common man.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

Unions are great, but I disagree with the quote that it is the only holiday that isn't about conflicts with one another. There are a lot of holidays that are celebrations of life.

That being said, hope you had a great Labor Day!!!! :-)

6:57 PM  
Blogger Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Perhaps my greatest complaint about unions is their growing pattern of corruption and their growing trend of selling out their own members for the leaders' benefit. Also, increasingly, there's an intimidation aspect in their recruitment drives. Sure, members get higher wages, but the cost of those higher wages are union dues, which, in some cases, completely negate any raises the workers may have gotten. If unions solely focused on benefitting the workers, that would be one thing, but things change. Organizations mutate, and that which once may have been great may mutate into something monstrous, such as the NRA. Or, put another way... bah, you can find "The Second Coming" by Yeats. I won't take up your space by quoting it. :)

Oh, and happy belated Labor Day.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

For the record, I'm not against union. I'm merely against some of their activities. I certainly do and will continue to take issue with anyone who abuses the trust of those in their care.

4:37 AM  
Blogger Damien said...

Happiest of Labour days snaveroo, long live the unionized work force, down with individual labour contracts.

5:23 PM  

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