Labor Day – Power to the People?

I’ve never really thought about the origin or meaning of Labor Day. Have you? To me, it’s always meant a long weekend, usually spent outdoors, having a BBQ picnic. Maybe bargain hunting at the mall.

Back in 1882 New York, the Central Labor Union celebrated a working man’s holiday on Tuesday, September 5th with a parade followed by a festival. It’s unclear who proposed the idea – there are a few dissenting opinions on that topic. At the first Labor Day gathering, workers lobbied for an 8-hour work day. Hmmm, I wonder if anyone besides me would lobby for a 4-day work week this year? (It works for other countries!)

It took a few years to move the holiday to Monday and establish it nationwide. Finally, President Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894, attempting to appease workers after the Pullman railroad strike.

00-01f-vor-occupy-wall-street-02-10-11The most recent widely known labor-related protest was the Occupy movement, a protest against social and economic inequality throughout the world. It began with Occupy Wall Street in New York City’s Zuccotti Park on September 17,  2011 (just after Labor Day).

That was three years ago now, and despite all the coverage and attention, the political landscape of our nation appears unchanged, or perhaps worse. It’s depressing to think about. Maybe this is why I hate politics.

This weekend, it’s more likely that we chose to party or shop rather than parade or protest. It’s the last hurrah of summer before the serious business of September begins. Many of my friends go camping or spend the day at the park or the beach. Some overachievers camp on the beach. ::shudder::


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