September 03, 2006

Thanks to the Laborers

According to the Labor Department's website, "Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."

In addition to creating the Labor Day holiday recognizing workers, labor unions are partly responsible for the following: minimum wage (which stands at $5.15 per hour, has not been raised since 1997 and is thus worth considerably less in real dollars today due to inflation); 40 hour work week; restrictions on child labor; restrictions on sweatshops; and workplace safety requirements.

Some conservatives and Republicans bash labor unions and seek to destroy them. These folks sometimes say that the "free market" and "capitalism" will take care of the workplace issues listed above. Apparently, they want to return to the period prior to the 1930s, before the rise of labor unions and legislation protecting workers, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. We know what happened during that period. Child labor. Sweatshops. Unsafe working conditions. Locked doors. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

People who oppose labor unions should not be taking Labor Day off from work. To oppose the unions and benefit from the holiday they established is hypocritical. As the U.S. Department of Labor says regarding the Labor Day holiday:

"The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker."

Have a happy and safe holiday.


At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do not see anything from your Labor Dept quote mentioning the word "union". It does, however, extol the American worker; and I agree.
In addition to all the things you stated that unions are responsible for, add the following: ruination of many great American industries, incl airlines and auto mfg; widespread corruption; use of workers dues for political contributions (only democrats, of course); and eliminating any loyalty and incentive on the part of the worker towards his employer (it's the union that gets him the raises).


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