Labor Day: What is this? / by kevin murray

America has all sorts of holidays, of which some are Federal holidays, some are State sanctioned holidays, as well as floating holidays, or moveable holidays, or combined holidays.  The thing about Labor Day which became a Federal holiday when signed into law by President Grover Cleveland in 1894, is that though the holiday or celebration of Labor Day was done in certain cities and States, before it became a Federal holiday, those that first celebrated Labor Day should be accorded the real credit that this day, then became, for they are the ones that risked it all, to benefit society. 


The fact that there actually is a holiday set aside for those that labor for their living, that is, a celebration and appreciation for regular hard working men and women of this country, should not be taken for granted; for historical labor conditions within America were often not progressive, and at the time that Labor Day was first being celebrated in certain cities and States  those labor conditions were typically not very accommodating or considerate of those working, for often companies required employees to work  sixty or even seventy hours a week, for relatively low pay, and those that struck for higher wages, were deal with summarily rather poorly by corporate police forces or the State or city police agencies, and justice so rendered for those striking, did them no justice at all.


However, those that labored way outnumbered, those that essentially controlled the means of production, and over time, through sweat, blood, and courage, the laborers as a whole, began to make headway against those that siphoned too much of their wages for themselves, and in consequence an era of progression and a more liberal attitude, of the sharing of the wealth, began to be developed, and the first beginnings of a real significant swath of middle class families began to create itself, when wages and hours so being worked, became more reasonable.  This meant that most laborers were no longer working literally from sunup to sundown, day after day,  just to keep their heads above water, but now actually had time for some rest, relaxation, and with their additional wages, an opportunity to spend their hard earned money on things that they so desired and needed to procure.


Nearly everyone in America, at some point, must or does work, and not only must they work, they at least initially, typically work for someone else, that basically controls or limits or heavily influences their wages as well as their work hours and schedule, along with their work conditions.  The fact that there is a minimum wage established in America, along with established rules for hours to be worked on a given day before overtime is allocated, as well as rules for work breaks during working hours, in addition to established safe working conditions, can be largely attributed to those that labored hard and worked with progressive and visionary politicians to see that these important legislative laws would be and had to be passed and ratified. 


When the worm had turned, labor began to receive their just rewards in America, of which this was fundamentally accomplished through the hard work, politicking, and organization of labor unions and laborers, sacrificing themselves for the betterment of the common man; and the fact that labor unions have subsequently been in massive decline in recent decades, reflects the fact that though we celebrate Labor Day, we have to a large extent, dismissively abandoned the common laborer.