Labor Day 2022

September 05, 2022  •  2 Comments

Memorial Day and Labor Day sandwich the official summer/travel season in the United States, and each holiday has its origin stories.  Because labor unions were not particularly popular with business owners, and the fight for and against them exists even today, Labor Day did not become a national holiday until the 1930s and beyond.  It is celebrated on the first Monday in September.

Some background.  Two different McGuires - Matthew Maguire, Secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, New Jersey, proposed the holiday in 1882, while in the same year, P. J. McGuire, General Secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, "suggested setting aside a day for a 'general holiday for the laboring classes' to honor those 'who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.' "  The Knights of Labor and the Central Labor Union were promoting it as day to celebrate labor.  Numerous unions and organized labor groups were coming together around the idea of the day to insure a day off for workers.  Countries around the world have celebrated labor on 1 May as International Workers Day, but President Grover Cleveland was concerned that using that day would associate it with socialist and anarchist movements.  The first state to make it an official September holiday was Oregon, in 1887.  By 1894, thirty states were celebrating Labor Day.  My thanks to all those who labor in this world today, many of whom are working despite the holiday, including those at Wikipedia from which I gleaned much of the above information.  

I have known for quite some time that my maternal grandfather was a staunch union member.  An iron and steel worker and immigrant from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Dominik kept his union card handy at all times.  He joined the union in 1920, I am assuming, after becoming an American citizen.  I read somewhere that many of the first unions would not accept neither people of color nor immigrants.  Here is a copy of his 25 year membership certificate.

 

Below is the seal of the Grand Lodge International Association of Machinists Washington D. C.   It is now the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, an AFL-CIO/CLC trade union.  That union represents over 646,000 workers in the United States and Canada.  The backdrop for the seal is a wonderful spatula made for us by our good friend, Earle, who would have a lot to discuss with Grandpa.  A master metal worker in his own right, Earle builds custom cars, and designs and fabricates automotive parts. 

There are probably more than a few people who don't understand the big deal about labor unions.  This tidy paragraph by Deepa Shivaram of NPR says a lot.  "Do you enjoy not having to work weekends?  The 40-hour work week?  Having sick days and paid time off?  You can thank labor leaders for that."

Have a magnificent first week of September!

Thanks to Luella, Jim & Louise, Barbara F. R., Elida, Char, Steve, Jean & Sam, Lawrence, Catherine, Charlie K. C., and Steve for writing this week!

until next Monday,

DB

a passion for the image©

 

 

 


Comments

Steve Immel(non-registered)
It's good to be reminded of the role that labor unions played in workers gaining higher wages, better hours, and benefits like health insurance and retirement plans. In many ways labor unions built the Middle Class in America. The GI bill after WWll played a big role, too. In marketing and economics classes in the early Sixties the burgeoning middle class was referred to as "The Blue Color Aristocracy." That's when blue color workers who worked the assembly line at Ford or GM owned a house, two cars and had a boat in the driveway.

There was abuse in the unions to be sure as corruption was rampant. But the contributions by unions to a vibrant American economy coming out of the Great Depression and World Two were huge. It's interesting to note that the current administration wants to make it easier for farm workers to organize.

Thanks for the refresher on what Labor Day celebrates.
TTT(non-registered)
Thanks for the history lesson and family ties.
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