Labor Day Holiday

Labor Day Should Remind Us Of Significance Of Labor Unions In American History!

Monday is Labor Day, a celebration of the contributions and sacrifices of generations of workers who struggled to honor the efforts of working people, who had to combat the power of corporations and commit themselves to reform and humane treatment.

The first national holiday came about in the Presidency of Grover Cleveland in 1894, just as we had the Pullman Strike, which led to the imprisonment of Socialist Eugene Debs, but led to the growing success of organized labor over the next decades.

The ultimate triumph of organized labor came in the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and while much of the nation, particularly the Southern states, worked against unionization, there was expansion of labor union membership nationally.

Sadly, the Presidency of Ronald Reagan saw labor union growth come to a halt, and has only recently started to increase once again.

But membership in labor unions is only in the midteens in number right now, when it once was about a third to 40 percent.

President Joe Biden, however, is a champion of organized labor, and will speak on Labor Day tomorrow in Pittsburgh, to commemorate labor, and call for the further expansion of unions for workers!

In the Presidential Election of 2020, Biden gained the backing of 56 percent of union households, crucial to his victories in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in particular!

What Labor Day Means: Has It Been Forgotten? Sadly, Yes! :(

Today is Labor Day, a holiday first developed in the 1880s to honor the contributions of American workers to the development of our economy!

Workers then were in the process, a long struggle, to develop labor union organizations to represent the interest of workers, something bitterly fought by corporations and government, as a “conspiracy in restraint of trade!”

Only slowly, starting with the administration of Theodore Roosevelt at the beginning of the 20th century, did labor begin to be treated with dignity and respect, but still with many setbacks during the conservative 1920s!

During the Great Depression and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, labor union organizations finally gained acceptance as partners in collective bargaining, but remained the “enemy” in the South and in many interior states across the nation!

Labor unions at one point had one third of all workers, and their influence led to state and federal legislation that made life better for union workers, as well as non union workers! Their peak could be said to be in the 1960s and early 1970s, followed by a long period of rapid decline in influence, particularly due to the administration of Ronald Reagan, ironically a labor leader himself (the Screen Actors Guild)!

Today, organized labor has only about 12 percent of the labor force as members, and workers in general have seen backwards steps in relations with their employers, particularly in these difficult economic times of the Great Recession! 🙁

Labor is now struggling to be more significant, and to help promote the agenda of the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party, but ironically, many workers continue to avoid voting, or find the emotional appeal of the Republican party on issues such as gay rights, abortion, illegal immigration, and Islamophobia as their major motivation, a sad development! 🙁

So the work of the labor movement, which is always bad mouthed by conservatives and Republicans, remains a challenge for the future!