From The AFL-CIO Now
From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_Day
Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September (September 6 in 2010).
The first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City. It became a federal holiday in 1894, when, following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date was chosen as Cleveland was concerned that aligning an American labor holiday with existing international May Day celebrations would stir up negative emotions linked to the Haymarket Affair. All 50 U.S. states have made Labor Day a state holiday.
What did you learn in school about the Labor Movement in the United States?
Did they teach you that the 40 hour/5 day work week was the result of the labor movement?
Did they teach you about the struggles to organize and form unions? How the workers were murdered by Corporate police called Pinkertons, by local police, National Guard, Federal troops and by the ultra right wing American Legion?
Did you learn who Joe Hill, Mother Jones, Big Bill Haywood, Emma Goldman, Harry Bridges and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn were? Or why they were important?
When they were teaching you about the struggles for African American Civil Rights did they also teach you about the Pullman Strike? When they taught you about the struggles for women’s rights did they also teach you about the textile factory girls of Lowell Mass and other cities and the Bread and Roses Strike?
Did you learn about the bloody hands of Frick and Carnegie? How they had the workers engaged in the Homestead Strike murdered, hard working Americans machine gunned? Or the Ludlow Mine Strike Massacre? The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire?
Right from the start the rich used the tactics of the Red Scare and criminalized, threatened and lynched those who organized the worker and led the struggles for workers rights, social justice and decent pay.
The middle class in the United States exists in part to the efforts of organized labor and we can trace the decline of the middle class to the rise of right wing Republicanism with its policies favoring the corporations and attacking organized labor.
Reds (communists, socialists, anarcho-syndicalists, progressives) were always the ones who cared about the workers. The rich look upon workers as nothing more than a resource to exploit. Another thing they do not teach in schools is how many of the union were integrated and multi-cultural long before multi-cultural was ever considered for usage by academe. They do not teach how union organizers had to be able to speak several languages so they could address workers who escaped the oppression of Europe for a better life in America only to find themselves as meanly oppressed by the rich factory owners as they had been by the titled land owners.
Oh how the right wing has hated organized labor. How they have propagandized against it, criminalized it and lied about it.
They have a language all their own. They call anti-union laws “Right to Work” laws. When in fact they are hire and fire at will laws that strip workers of any redress what so ever.
Anti-discrimination laws are a joke and will always be an exercise in wankery as long as the bosses hold all the power and the workers have none. As long as fire at will laws persist workers can be terminated for any reason or no reason what so ever.
There is and has been a class war in America and in the rest of the world too. It is the war that the rich wage upon the poor. A war of exploitation where we work so hard for such a meager reward and our work creates the surplus value, the profit that makes them rich beyond anything I can actually imagine.
Perhaps we should honor the Labor Movement on Labor Day and remind ourselves of all the people who died and how the corporations spit upon their graves and dishonor their sacrifices.