Enjoying your Labor Day Weekend? Thank a Union.

thankaunionThe first officially recognized Labor Day was celebrated on September 5th, 1882 in New York City. In 1894, it was finally recognized as a federal holiday to honor the American worker. Yes, the worker – the man or woman who gives the best years of their lives to various corporations in exchange for a pittance of the profits – not the CEOs and Wall Street hedge fund managers who have tanked our economy on more than one occasion.

While corporate interests may have given us the first intercontinental railroad or brought us the $0.99 iPhone that you’re currently using to take pictures of your Labor Day cookout (it’s not a BBQ unless it’s done low and slow over a wood fire) for Instagram, none of these accomplishments would have been possible without the worker.

This country was built from the blood, sweat and tears of men and women from all over the world. They gave everything they had – including their lives – to give us railways, interstates and a communications grid. Labor Day itself would not have been brought about if it were not for the collective representation of various workers known as a union.

You know those hot dogs, hamburgers, brats, beers or veggie burgers you’ll be consuming this weekend? They weren’t magically produced in that alternate universe where trickle-down economics actually works; and they sure didn’t flow down from the mythical world where the soul of Sam Walton creates jobs and slashes prices from beyond the grave. The food and the weekend we’re enjoying were created by working people like you and I who struggle to make it from paycheck to paycheck. Faceless men or women you’ll probably never meet, who got up before dawn and kissed their kids goodbye while they were still asleep, worked all day at the factory and then came home to get just a few minutes with them before falling asleep to do it all over again.

This holiday is not to celebrate the homes of the rich and famous in the Hamptons. Labor Day is for the workers – without them, the 1% would not be where they are. Without workers, there wouldn’t be products to sell, or the stores to purchase them in. If you want to thank someone for this extended weekend, thank a union – because if it wasn’t for them, we would all be going back to work on Monday.


Facebook comments

  • Dilan

    Yet the rich corporations are trying to take it away.(Walmart, etc.)

  • Ron

    “If you want to thank someone for this extended weekend…”

    More like working 8 hours on Labor day without holiday pay :/ Thanks I guess.

    • moonkat51

      Thank your employer, don’t blame unions.

    • JNWesner

      Ron, are you in a union? If so, chances are you got something in exchange for that, or you need a better negotiator. If not, WHY NOT? You clearly need one.

  • Rightb4ureyz

    We are being slowly forced out of unions in america by big money corporations who make billions in profits while paying little to those who do the work I will fight to the death for fair wages for the workers and i encourage everyone to do the same. together we can stop the wheels completley and bring big corporations to there knees. Do it!!

  • Marco Pombo

    If not for Unions we would all be working 10-14 hour days, 6 days a week, as well as any other time our fat, rich bosses demanded that we drag our poor broke asses down to their filthy, dangerous labor pits…

  • JNWesner

    I am constantly amazed when working-class people tell me that a union is just an unnecessary expense and we are better off without them. The American century, now ended, was created by unions. They forced the 1% to negotiate and brought about an end to child labor, a limited work week, paid vacations, a safe workplace — all that we are now missing. Without unions, it’ll only get worse.

  • Charles Vincent

    “Currently, about 12.5 percent of the U.S. workforce is unionized.
    Overall union membership dropped by 1.5 million workers between 1985 and 2005, but increased by about the same amount among professional and technical workers.
    According to the AFL-CIO, more than 51 percent of all union members are white-collar workers.”
    Highlights from the 2012 data:
     Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.9 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.6 percent). (See table 3.)
     Workers in education, training, and library occupations and in protective service occupations had the highest unionization rates, at 35.4 and 34.8 percent, respectively. (See table 3.)
     Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)
     Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (23.2 percent), and North Carolina again had the lowest rate (2.9 percent). (See table 5.)
    Industry and Occupation of Union Members
    In 2012, 7.3 million employees in the public sector belonged to a union, compared with 7.0 million union workers in the private sector. The union membership rate for public-sector workers (35.9 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private-sector workers (6.6 percent). Within the public sector, local government workers had the highest union membership rate, 41.7 percent. This group includes workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and firefighters. Private-sector industries with high unionization rates included transportation and utilities (20.6 percent) and construction (13.2 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in agriculture and related industries (1.4 percent) and in financial activities (1.9 percent). (See table 3.)

    I find it oddly compelling that half go all union members work in government jobs and that white collar union workers are seeing growth as blue collar union workers numbers are shrinking.

  • Sam Brosenberg

    If it wasn’t for Unions, we wouldn’t have had the weekend off in the first place, let alone going back today instead of tomorrow.

  • Susan Turner

    My husband had to work today! He is a meat cutter in a supermarket. He is 67 years old. When he began the occupation, he was 21, and was unionized! In the early 80’s, the meat cutters union nationwide was busted. He went from $25 an hr to $8 an hr! He often works 70+ hours a week and even though he is now a manager, he is expected to stand and cut meat plus do the rest of his duties, with fewer people and meet higher production every year! He loved the union!