Labor Day isn’t a Holiday, it’s a Reminder
Enjoying your holiday? Headed out to the ball game? Ready to cook out?
If you’re “celebrating” Labor Day like most Americans on this first Monday in September, that probably means doing something leisurely. However, between balls and strikes and backyard barbeques and another bottle of beer, perhaps we can take just a moment to remember what this holiday actually celebrates. We are incredibly privileged that our generation gets to reap the rewards of the countless sacrifices made by our ancestors. Those sacrifices deserve our respect and our reverence.
If you’re happy not to be slaving away inside a filthy factory while working an unbearable 12-hour shift for pennies an hour with zero benefits, then THANK UNIONS. If you’re relieved not to be trapped inside dangerous working conditions and constantly threatened with losing your manufacturing job for speaking out, then THANK LIBERALS. If you’re lucky enough not to be cracked over the head with a billy club, shot at, or imprisoned for actively calling for a liveable working wage, then THANK PROGRESSIVES. All the brave men and women before us who fought for these essential rights of working-class Americans were once called “Socialists.” And indeed, many of them were SOCIALISTS.
So, thank you, UNIONS. Thank you, LIBERALS. Thank you, PROGRESSIVES. Thank you, SOCIALISTS.
Unions, liberals, progressives, and socialists made America better. We created the middle class. And conservatives opposed every single measure to expand basic human rights and improve the conditions of workers. Every single measure.
Labor Day is a tribute to mass struggle and overcoming exploitation and evil. It’s a reminder of the greatness that’s possible only with worker and citizen solidarity.
Never forget what the average American was forced to endure every day before the unions made working and living conditions better, not just for their own members, but for all workers. If it weren’t for those struggles, most of us would still be in squalor. If the scary vestiges of unabridged capitalism had their way, kids would still be used like beasts of burden on farm fields and inside dangerous coal mines. Should you doubt any of this, just look at how workers (including children) are treated in many developing countries by suppliers of big companies that exploit their labor — to this day. Most companies, corporations, and capitalists are perfectly fine with sweatshops and what amounts of indentured slavery. Again, just look at the facts and examine their records of exploitation in places where labor laws don’t exist and regulations are lax and they can get away with it.
Labor Day should remind us all that just as our grandparents and great-grandparents made extraordinary sacrifices so that future generations might prosper, we also have that same obligation to those who shall follow in our footsteps.
Our struggle continues. The fight isn’t over. It never ends.