A Gentleman and a Rogue

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Look at Labor Day




"Work isn't to make money; you work to justify life. "


Labor Day paved the way for the protections we have in the work environment today, but what happened in the past that gave rise to the Unions and their power they enjoy now?

If you do a quick search on Labor Day, you'll find out what Labor Day means for Americans today: a symbolic end to the summer filled with parades, BBQs, and parties. Oh, and it's meant to pay tribute to the accomplishments of the American worker.

In today's headlines, Labor Unions have bargained for themselves (and workers) big fat pensions and benefits that most government agencies can't provide in this current economy. With most labor unions unwilling to compromise, some public agencies have been forced into bankruptcy to renegotiate the contracts.  What's the right answer for today? Perhaps a quick look at the roots and inspiration of Labor Day can help give us a little guidance.

In the late 1880's, conditions for the American worker were pathetic. The average worker put in 12 hour days 7 days a week, and children as young as 5 and 6 toiled in the factory as well. They lacked fresh air, breaks, and clean bathroom facilities.

Workers began to form unions to protest their poor conditions. In 1882, workers marched in New York City in what's considered one of the earliest Labor Day parades. These parades fostered the idea of a workingmen's holiday and several states passed laws to recognize "Labor Day," but nothing occurred on the national level.

The back and forth between management and labor unions began. In May1894, workers of the Pullman Palace Car Company went on strike to protest their wages getting cut and their union reps being fired. The strike crippled railroad traffic throughout the nation. Federal troops were called in and riots broke out. More than a dozen people were killed.

The incident inspired Congress to make Labor Day a legal holiday on the national level. There was more compromise to be made, but today American workers enjoy 8 hour work days, clean restroom faculties, and breaks.

So are there lessons from the past that we can use in today's climate? I say the lesson is – have a willingness to come to the table and find meaningful compromise. It's not easy, but civil unrest is not a solution to anyone's problems.

This Labor Day celebrate the achievements obtained in the past, and remember the spirit of the holiday is more than just BBQs and parties. Labor Day's message is still relevant today as it was 100 years ago, the application just needs a modern approach.

Anyhoo…just some of my heavier reflections on the holiday.  Does anyone want to add anything?  What are your plans for the holiday?

I have the time off, but I need some inspiration.  I want to do more than BBQ in the backyard.  I might go hiking with my boys if the weather is good. Maybe we'll visit the fruit/veggie stands on the 126 heading out to Ventura.  Believe it or not, I'm needing some inspiration.

My June 2012 Summer Short story is "Journey of the Heart."


Can James help Rachel save her winery or will he drift out of her life the same way he drifted in?

Opening Line: James hated wandering

4, 5 Star Reviews on Amazon
The story was compelling and not boring, which is often a stereotype of sweet romances. I would recommend this short sweetie of a story. Good job, author. - Angel E

Excerpt: 
"Your case threatened to run away, so I bribed it." Her sweet expression was an arrow through his heart. 

"Really? What did you bribe it with?" He wiped the sweat off his brow with a handkerchief, caused from a combination of the summer heat and lifting the heavy cases. 

"A job."

He hooked his thumb toward his chest. "Are you offering me a job, Miss Santori?"

BUY LINK: http://amzn.com/B008G1JI6C

References for this blog:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_Day

8 comments:

  1. I think people forget the vital roll labor unions have played in this country. Great post. Tweeted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ella,
      I agree - Labor Unions have made a big diferrence in our work environment today. Thanks for the tweet.
      Smiles
      Steph

      Delete
  2. Despite all the problems, we are so blessed in America with available jobs.

    DH and I celebrated with the usual: barbeque and lots of laying around while we caught up on reading and movie watching (Ulysses with Kirk Douglas - cool movie.)

    Great excerpt, too!

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    Replies
    1. DH and I BBQ'd up a feast too - TriTip, Rib Eye, salad, garlic bread, japenino poppers, wine...sigh... then we watched a movie - Oblivion. I'm not much of a Tom Cruise fan, but I liked the movie. Both the DH and I like Sci-Fi.

      Smiles
      Steph

      Delete
  3. Labor Day was just another day for me. And when I worked in a convenience store it was just another work day whatever shift I was working. We received time and a half pay for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Otherwise a holdiay was just another day of work. We worked 8 hour shifts the breaks being if we weren't busy we could run outside and grab a smoke or sit down for a few minutes. Funny sometimes getting away to run to the bathroom was hard if you were working by yourself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy, yes, for some, Labor Day is another day, but I can honestly say, I felt like it was the unofficial end of summer. I took a walk around Castaic Lake and it looked like a "last summer hoopla" for some. Now the pumpkin patches are starting to pop up.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  4. It is sad that most people don't understand what Labor Day means or why we celebrate it. Although even with Unions we are sadly swinging back to the groups of have and havenots. Some jobs are just as rough or bad, even if we are "supposed" to get breaks, there never is the time for it, or our jobs are on the line.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melissa, I agree - I don't think a lot of people understand what the holiday is about. While I understand the need for change with the moderization of our work environment, some things don't. We should never be afraid to take a well meaning break.

      Smiles
      Steph

      Delete