Today is Labor Day. Not National Shopping Day or End of Summer Day. No, even though today has come to symbolize these things as well.
Today is to celebrate American Labor. Those people who gave their sweat and time and bodies to the fields and the factories. Those who make the goods, ship the goods, stock the goods, and provide the services that make our lives go.
Labor Day has been a holiday since 1894.
As I write this post, I hear an interview with Studs Terkel on The Story. He discusses conditions in early 20th century steel mills where there were no limits on hours or pay or conditions. Laborers came closer to property of the mills than employees, something that could be "shitcanned" at will when it became worn out or inconvenient. The union movement organized these workers and gave them rights, through their own wills and changes to the laws of the land. These rights we take for granted today.
Unfortunately, there are those who seem to have forgotten the workers who fought and died for the dignity of their work. When I hear Nikki Haley saying that South Carolina doesn't need unions because her state's employers will take care of their people, I have a historical hiccup. It sounds like the bastions of capital of the Gilded Age or something out of a Dickens' story.
Remember how that era turned out! There are reasons so many people fought and died for the unions, for the dignity of a limited work-day, a living wage, and protections from unsafe conditions. Do we really want to go back to those days?
Listen to The Story. Even if you must download the MP3 and tune in during your shopping or while sunning at the pool. It's important we remember what came before us. We sure don't want to relive it.