September 3, 2016
By John Durso
Labor Day which we all know is a national holiday, signals the end of summer and the beginning of fall, the start of the school year, football season and a big shopping weekend.
But Labor Day is so much more than all of that it’s a day to remember the struggles of the past and to celebrate the greatest workforce in history, the American workforce.
Labor Day is the first Monday in September, it was created by an act of Congress and signed into law 6 days after the famous Pullman strike of 1894 by President Grover Cleveland. Labor Day is the holiday when we celebrate the working women and men of our great country, a holiday they truly deserve. It should come as no surprise that the idea of Labor Day originated in New York in 1882 from an organization which today is known as the New York City Central Labor Council.
Labor Day is a day to remember those who came before us, who sacrificed so that workers can enjoy the benefits of the labor movement that we have today. Men, women and even some children suffered great hardships in the creation of the labor movement. Many of the early trade Unionists were beaten for speaking up while others gave their lives demanding fair wages, dignity and respect on the job.
The labor movement has come a long way in the last century, we have accomplished great things as a movement; but we face great challenges every day from the right wing in this country. We face a well-funded movement to roll back the clock and take away the gains we have worked so hard to achieve. It is all of our responsibility as citizens and workers Union and non-Union to be vigilant and willing to fight to protect our rights, our achievements and to honor the sacrifices of those who came before us.
While we in the labor movement may be smaller in number, we are just as committed as our predecessors. The labor movement is so much more than just a good contract it’s about quality of life, it’s about dignity, respect, commitment to community and ensuring fairness to all workers. The labor movement is about giving a voice to those who have no voice, it’s about giving strength to the weak, courage to the meek and hope to those who have no hope, it’s about making our communities better, fairer, safer and ensuring that the next generation has a better life with opportunities for all to reach their greatest potential.
So as you enjoy this holiday, thank the person who is serving you at the restaurant, checking your groceries out at the store, protecting you on the street, caring for you when you are ill and teaching your children and grandchildren; for these people are your neighbors, your friends and these people are the American Labor Movement.