Happy Labor Day

What do you think of when someone says "Happy Labor Day" to you?  Is it "oh boy, a day off of work!"  Or "Get out the barbecue and beer."  Labor Day has come to signify the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year, the last hurrah of summer vacations.

Honor LaborBut the originators of this celebration had something very different in mind:  fair wages and reasonable hours for workers.

In 1898, Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor, called it "the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed…that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it."  www.pbs.org

In the United States, we tend to think of this as a very American holiday.  But a  Huffington Post article states:

Canada flag"While most Americans likely consider Labor Day a uniquely American experience, but in all reality, Labor Day has its origins in Canada. Stemming from 1870’s labor disputes in Toronto, in 1872 a parade was held in support of a strike against the (ready for this?) 58 hour workweek. As a result, 24 union leaders who were responsible for organizing the event were arrested under anti-union laws." Huffington Post

As you enjoy your day off, celebrating with friends, family, and good food, take a moment to remember the roots of the day:  Honor those who helped us get where we are today, and let's do our best to give our children a world in which their labor will be honored as well.  Happy Labor Day.

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