How can I not feel grateful today that this Monday is a day off from work due to a national holiday, right? So while I’m grateful for Labor Day and an extra day off, I also want to express some gratitude for all the folks in the past who shed blood, sweat, and more blood to make it possible.
I grew up in a working class family, and I still identify myself as primarily working class. I know it isn’t the “in thing” these days to be pro-labor, or pro-union, but I am. I think labor unions are critical. Anyone who says unions have outlived their usefulness are missing the point. As long as a class of people are making other classes of people rich via their labor — which is happening more and more these days while jobs-quality and pay plummet and distribution of wealth gets more concentrated — then unions are necessary. The banding together of the working class to stand against the exploitation of the moneyed class is necessary. Probably more critical now than ever, especially with our country seemingly on the brink of yet another stupid war (where the working class are primarily cannon fodder) and a president who doesn’t seem to be much of a friend to the union worker.
So I’m grateful for the people who brought us overtime pay, the work week, elimination of child labor, etc.
What bums me out, and this I know from experience, is that many of the descendants of those people don’t get the benefits of the holiday. It wasn’t until I moved into white collar “office” jobs that I was guaranteed time off on Labor Day. When I was stacking cartons, or driving a forklift, or picking orders, I was always forced to work on this day because the work needed to be done. At least I got paid extra for it, though. . . .