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Thankful for Labor Day

August 31, 2014 - Linda Lobeck
Labor Day is one of those holidays I didn’t give much thought to as a child. It was just another day off of school in September. And until I got older, I never considered the sacrifices made by workers who helped shape our country. Labor Day is a day that celebrates the strength, prosperity and contributions that workers have made for the well-being of all of us. Because of the sacrifices and persistence of workers in our history, we have pretty good working conditions and can earn money to support ourselves and our families.

My grandparents as well as my Dad talked a lot about the Depression and the jobs they had to take in order to earn a couple of dollars a week to feed their families. My Grandfather during that time held many different jobs before he got a job working for the Soo Line Railroad. He was a part-time policeman, baker, cooked at hunting camps, and generally did whatever he could to support his family of six.

The only year that Labor Day had a different meaning to me was in 1988 when I was in actual labor giving birth to my older son! Now this day has a double meaning to me and to my son, who will be 26 years-old on Sept. 5.

Labor Day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. But after the Haymarket Massacre, which occurred in Chicago on May 4, 1886, U.S. President Grover Cleveland feared that celebrating Labor Day on May 1, could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Because of this, the decision was made to establish an official holiday in September.

My working conditions certainly don’t come close to what those early workers experienced. But we can be thankful for all they did to fight and create the better working conditions and laws that were enacted to keep all working people safe.

After 30 years of working in this job and another 4-5 years working in other jobs, I feel that Labor Day is definitely a day to reflect on our past and be thankful of our future. We have laws that protect workers and keep children from being used by companies for cheaper labor. Our past has helped to define us as a country and I for one am happy to see how far we have come.


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