“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity.”

When I was a kid, today was the last day of summer. School starting tomorrow was the signal. It was my only Monday bath night. I was always torn. I hated summer ending, but I was excited to get to school. Everything was new. I had my school bag, my lunch box, pens, pencils, crayons and note books. I had new shoes and a new outfit. I even had a new uniform, a new blue skirt and a white blouse.

My mother always made a great lunch for us every day, but the first day’s lunch was the best. We always had something Hostess for desert. I remember Sno-Balls. I liked the pink best, but I suspect the pink and white tasted the same. Eating a Sno-Ball required a set technique. First I’d take the pink cover off. It usually came off as a single piece. I’d put it aside for later. The chocolate cupcake was next. It had cream in the middle so I’d eat around the cream and save that middle for the last bite. I still had the pink marshmallow cover with coconut all over it. I’d eat small pieces so it would last longer.

I bought some Hostess cupcakes in my last grocery order. Old habits die hard. I ate around the cream middle and saved it for last.

I always wondered why no one worked on a day called Labor Day. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned the significance of the day. Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. It was preceded by  time when most American laborers worked 18 or even 20 hours a day. On May 4, 1886 tens of thousands of workers protested in cities all across the US to demand an eight-hour workday. Police in Chicago attacked peaceful protests and workers planning meeting two days later, randomly beating and shooting at the planning group and killing six. When outraged Chicagoans attended an initially peaceful protest the next evening in Haymarket Square, police advanced on the crowd again. Someone who was never identified exploded a bomb that killed a police officer, leading cops to open fire on protesters and provoke violence that led to the deaths of about a dozen workers and police. Chicago was also the setting for the bloody Pullman strike of 1894, which catalyzed the establishment of an official Labor Day holiday in the U.S. on the first Monday of September.

This is only a bare bones description of why we celebrate Labor Day. Here is more: https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/labor-day-1

Happy Labor Day!!

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6 Comments on ““All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity.””

  1. Bob Cohen Says:

    Hi Kat,

    Since the 1980s the U.S. workers have taken it in the anal sphincter by businesses through Republican policies. When Reagan fired the Air Traffic controllers and banned their union, PATCO in 1981, it sent a signal to businesses that it was fair game to kill all unions and squash workers rights. Businesses started to export jobs to every corner of the developing world looking for low wages, low taxes and few if any regulations. The only thing that mattered was shareholder interests in stock price appreciation. Management were put on performance compensation plans tied to stock prices along with huge stock options. When management tried to work for their employees and communities corporate raiders would mount hostile takeovers designed to break the unions including offshoring the labor. Theses guys realized that many companies were worth more in prices than remaining whole. This kind of business attitudes has expanded the distance between CEO and average worker compensation to astronomical differences.

    Interestingly, the Businesses Round Table just changed their goal that shareholder value is no longer a main objective. Maybe happy days for workers is in the future again.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/19/the-ceos-of-nearly-two-hundred-companies-say-shareholder-value-is-no-longer-their-main-objective.html

    Happy Labor Day

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      The bottom line was always the focus. It was, as you said, important to make money. Corporations were at the mercy of their stockholders. Make money or be gone.

      Many workers are still pushing for their rights. They strike hoping to force management to the bargaining table. It has been successful here of late. Stop and Shop was the latest strike which forced changes.

      I believe a happy worker is a better worker. Looks like corporations are starting to believe that.

  2. Hedley Says:

    I am one of the lucky ones

    The boundaries of opportunity in the old country did not really suit me. I was lucky enough to have the chance to apply my (limited) skill set in the Labor market of the United States. After a 5 year period of adjustment, I settled in to a somewhat combative entrepreneurial world, which has been my work space for the last 35 years. Institutional? Nah, Corporate? Nah, risk driven ? Yup

    Next Monday I turn 65, and it is also the day on which I become a citizen of the United States.

    • katry Says:

      Congratulations, My Dear Hedley. You get to celebrate two benchmarks next Monday. I wish you better than the best.

      I was going to go to law school after Peace Corps, but I loved teaching so much I knew it would be my life’s work. I was an educator for 35 years, many of those years as an administrator.

      I did not know my choice would even allow me to retire at 57.

      I too am one of the lucky ones for reasons a bit different than yours.

  3. Birgit Says:

    Thanks for reminding us each year! It’s important to remember history and to fight for our rights.
    Yesterday was the 80th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s attack on Poland. Yesterday two state elections in eastern Germany took place and the far-right party almost won both elections. It’s terrifying how bad history repeats on so many levels in this country and unfortunately in other countries too.

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      What is happening here is scary. The president believes he has unlimited power and the legislature, to him, is just an annoyance, at least in the house. I want to scream when I hear him talking in circles and repeating the same rhetoric which means nothing.

      Trump stayed here and sent Pence to Poland instead. Trump wanted to be here to monitor the hurricane. The news said Trump was being kept apprised of the situation while he was golfing. Yup, Saturday and today he went golfing. It must have been because he needed to settle his nerves with the storm coming.


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