Laboring on Labor Day

English: Labor Day Parade, Union Square, New Y...
English: Labor Day Parade, Union Square, New York, 1882 (Lithographie) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most of this Labor Day weekend, I have been laboring to move to a new house, but it was my choice to do this.   I could have spent my weekend relaxing on a beach.

We often forget how life would be like without the courageous and dedicated people who made Labor Day possible.

A very good friend of mine, the founder of a green manufacturer in Chicago Marvin Klein, writes a newsletter he calls the Political Update from time to time.  I’ve been trying to convince him that he needs to blog because he is so insightful about the politics of our day in a non-partisan way.

I want to share with you Marvin’s article for today, because he articulates  so well why unions have been important to our country, and perhaps still are today!

Time to Google Labor Day and Remember

by Marvin Klein

To most Americans Labor Day is the last vacation day of summer and a time to get ready for school and winter.   But for over a hundred years, Labor Day has been  the day to remember all the sacrifices that millions of workers and their families went through to establish unions and get the wages and work rules that we all now consider normal.  

Most workers expect Holidays with pay, expect to work only an 8 hour day with breaks to go to the washroom, expect to get paid vacations, and expect to have safety regulations prevent them from getting injured and if they are injured on the job expect to get paid while they recuperate.  Well we could go on and on but you get the idea and we all know about the terrible working conditions in China that doesn’t have Unions.     

The middle class in our country owes a big debt of gratitude to Unions, as without them there simply would not be a middle class.   Instead they would have the life their families had before unions …you know 14 hour days, 6 days a week for starvation wages.

However the minute Labor Day is over all you are going to hear is how Unions are destroying our nation’s economy.  It is a very popular theme for our current politicians…who constantly vote themselves better working condition and more benefits.

Today, the Unions are fighting for their survival.  The Teachers Union in Chicago is a case in point.  They are losing their jobs, not getting raises while being required to work more hours and may see their pensions collapse before they ever get to retirement age.   But this is going on all over the country and many politicians have found that attacking unions is the best way to get elected.

It is easy to kick other people when things are not going well….but make sure you are not just kicking yourself into decades of hardships.

Anyway, hope everyone had a nice day at the beach.

Daily Contemplation:

What do you think, is Marvin right?

Are you thankful for all the freedoms that unions have secured on your behalf?

7 thoughts on “Laboring on Labor Day”

  1. I guess I have mixed feelings. I totally agree that at the time unions started workers needed them to create fair wages, etc. But I grew up in a UAW town and without going into detail, I think the UAW is a big reason for the bad rep of unions. I’m grateful unions started and I know that some of the less powerful unions are just working hard to do a good job for their people and that there are un-unionized parts of the work force that could use that help, but based on my life experience I don’t feel unmitigated support for unions.. I have no hesitations at saying YAY! for working people everywhere.

    1. I know what you mean, because I used to work with manufacturers, and some union demands were hard to understand to say the least, and were ones that no longer served the purpose of social justice and fairness. The challenge is whenever we get into an all or nothing position, where we lose the ability to negotiatie in either direction. I especially worry about anyone whether a teacher, a fireman or engineer who worked hard and expected a good pension and is now looking at a less secure future. Thanks so much for your comment.

  2. Unions may have a few tactics that may not be desirable, but what political entity doesn’t? My decision about unions is an easy one. I look at all of the good things unions have brought to our work force throughout the years.
    The 40 hour work week, pension plans, paid leave such as sick days and vacations, and employee health insurance. Unions also helps to secure legislated labor protections and rights such as safety in the work place, overtime pay, and family leave. There is so much more I could say about unions, but I will stop here. I will add however, that there won’t be a large middle class at all without the unions.

  3. Great post. Thanks for sharing. Beyond what unions have done in the past, the battle is how do we balance things out for the future. Obama, who is a middle of the road moderate, has already agreed that everyone must sacrafice, including unions. The problem is you have Republicans, led by a few billionaires, who won’t even agree to returning top marginal tax rates back to the Clinton years so we can invest in education, technology, and healthcare. There’s absolutely no compromise from the other side, and a few greedy scumbags are holding the entire economy hostage. I’ve worked around Wall Street and the investment community for 15 years. I believe in capitalism, but the greed being displayed is unreasonable.

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