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I think we all enjoy having the first Monday of September off. It’s a nice break since the last holiday was the 4th of July. That’s a long span not to have a holiday. So, what’s Labor Day about?
It’s dedicated to the American worker and all they’ve done to strengthen the nation, help make America prosperous, and boost the overall well-being of the country.
While the origins of the holiday are debated, what we do know is that one of the first Labor Days came about in the 1880’s out of New York City, and the intent was to celebrate with a picnic. By 1894, 23 states celebrated Labor Day.
The first Labor Days involved a street parade with floats and exhibits that embodied the strength and Esprit de corps of the trade or labor unions. After the parades, there would be festivals, picnics, amusement to help entertain workers and their families. I, for one, enjoy a good autumn festival. Today there are “Highland Games” that take place in the fall, State Fairs, Apple festivals, etc…
Labor has contributed to the high standard of living in America, and the worker deserves to be acknowledged for their contributions. I think that’s the heart of the holiday that we shouldn’t forget.
Labor Unions were very important when they first formed. Labor Unions were formed in the private sector for manufacturing jobs. They helped establish fair practices. Labor Unions not only negotiated fair wages, but also for the 8 hour work day, and benefits from sick time to holiday pay. Labor unions helped to protect workers. They helped to do away with children laborers as well.
Labor Day is now approximately 125 years old. It’s still considered the unofficial end of summer, as schools usually back up after the holiday. But do unions do the same thing now in 2020 that they were conceived to do in the 1880’s? The times have changed since 1880’s and now. The Industrial revolution is over and now there’s a technical revolution.
What makes a Union successful in 2020 is the ability to successfully negotiate contracts. There are public unions and private unions. Public service unions have grown while private ones have gotten smaller. Public unions focus on retaining good pay, good benefits and job security. Public sector unions also have a political influence.
Private unions have declined due to the jobs market declining in certain jobs such as health care, restaurants, and hospitality as well as manufacturing.
As for the holiday, I would love see America get back to basics with parades and festivals. (which would definitely be challenge in 2020 due to COVID) What makes the holiday special for me is the day off to relax and appreciate all the benefits I have due to the hard work of laborers before me. So, for Labor Day 2020, I’ll be BBQ in my backyard, share my Labor Day flowers with you all, and read a good book. I might even go shopping at Target. It's the little things that make the holiday special.