Putting the labor in Labor Day
I went over to The Common Voice this morning to see if there were many headlines submitted. I wasn't surprised to see that there were very few. What do you expect on Labor Day?
Most folks are probably just getting out of bed as I type this. If they did get up before now, they are probably loading up the car to head out for some recreation - or they haven't even been at home since last Friday.
Well, some of us are at work. Some are probably working because they are needed to man the floors of retail stores holding Labor Day sales. Others are serving tables or running the cash registers at restrurants. Still others are working because they need the extra cash.
However, I think a small minority of folks are working today because at some point in the past their employer didn't like the origins of what has now become just another accepted day off of work - the official end of summer.
Some have confused Labor Day with the idea of the communists' May Day (another day set aside to "celebrate the worker"). However, the day finds its origins in organized labor. The American Federation of Labor along with the defunct Knights of Labor worked to get Congress to pass a law recognizing Labor Day in 1894.
Interestingly, in Australia, Labor Day is called Eight Hour Day, and it commemorates the successful struggle for a shorter working day. Of course, in Europe, May Day (May 1) takes the place of our Labor Day and is more closely aligned to socialism.
The day's origins in organized labor and a confusion between Labor Day and May Day caused some in the 20th century to look with skepticism on the celebration. Of course, the day - like so many of our holidays - has come to be just another opportunity for a long weekend. Unlike those beginning days not much thought goes into "celebrating the worker" or the "brotherhood of man."
It is certainly an interesting history.