Labor Day is Here…

Labour Day is here.  Actually, I’m in the U.S. and here it is LABOR Day;  no ‘u’ in Labor so I’ve dropped my traditional British spelling).  That’s probably appropriate because the United Kingdom/England doesn’t celebrate Labor Day as a holiday to unite workers and further the cause of the working person.  Hmmm….they need to change that…good jobs are the ultimate riot-prevention tool… For many people this a time for backyard barbecues and the final celebration before their children return to school (great!…it’s time to get them the hell off the streets) so I hope they’re able to have a great time.  For all too many others, unfortunately, this is a time of angst.  Why?  Because they are doing the hard labor of looking for meaningful employment — oh, wait, just ANY damn job, meaningful or not.

During this economically distressed time, many employed folks are scared because there is not much in the way of stability.  Stagnant wages, diminishing benefits, corporate slash-and-burn policies that have eliminated or reduced health care coverage and pension contributions — even while profits are at record highs — and, of course, picking up extra work as the result of a reduced workforce to share the load should make everyone scared.  On the other hand, unemployed folks are both scared and scarred; still seeking a job after months and even years is traumatising — and the effects will be long-lasting both financially and emotionally.  Many don’t see much hope for a better future as they’re watching everything they’ve ever worked for slip away.  Many people, whether in the labor force or not, have gone from broke to ‘broke-ass‘….no income and deep into debt.

During this Labor Day, I hope people take some time to think about unions; whether people like the respective organisations, their leadership, or even if they believe that unions are a throwback to a bygone era there should be no doubt that if unions never formed, America would have a workforce with no protections.  Additionally, the increasingly dwindling middle class would never have formed to become a global purchasing powerhouse that helped to support the rest of the world’s economy.

Maybe when these friggin’ politicians sit their dusty confederate arses down to a calorie-laden picnic this weekend they’ll stop and think about how their inaction and/or stupid policies are not just keeping many people from working but also from EATING…but that’s another story.

My hope for workers and non-workers alike is that we think about the fact that we are not alone; worldwide there are too many people in the same situation — dealing with uncertainty through no fault of our own.  Leaders have failed.  Miserably.  For those of us here, on this side of the pond, the more we realise that this economy is not just an American problem and that workers all over the globe are being subjected to unstable and worsening conditions, the better off we’ll be as we unite to further our common goals.

Food for thought:

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
Martin Luther King, Jr. 



It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.
Barack Obama