Labor Day: Blue collar workers uniting together have a lot of influence

The Labor Day holiday coming up on Monday is, in my opinion, one of the most important federal holidays because it acknowledges that it takes the honest day’s work of all people in all honorable fields, crafts, professions and endeavors to make this country great.

Labor Day was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, the restarting of public education classes and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events

Labor Day rose out of one of the American labor history’s most dismal chapters. In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worker worked nearly all the live-long day (12-hour days and seven-day weeks) in order to earn a basic living.

And despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across this country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages - to help their families put food on tables.

As manufacturing increased, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor working conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.

Many of these events turned violent during this period, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed.

Others gave rise to longstanding traditions: On Sept. 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

The U.S. today needs a blue collar president who does not trade favors for cash and does not get “common sense’’ confused with “dollars and cents.’’

Our country is like a rudderless ship because mountains of money from the rich and influential are allowed to purchase influence and consideration for activities that do not serve the American working class - just the career politicians’ own self interests and the pockets of the rich.

Neither the National Republican Party nor the National Democratic Party, for example, currently offer any real solutions to the health care dilemma in this country - which is just as bad as the mortage financial crisis of a few years ago - because  the politicians in both of those parties do not want to lose the mountains of political donations they receive from the wealthy pharmaceutical companies.

If money is not at the root of all of Congress’ inaction, then explain why members of Congress are required to spend at least one day of week at Washington, D.C., across the street from Capitol Hill (where they’re supposed to be working for the working people) dialing for campaign contribution dollars.

As Labor Day approaches, it’s important to remember that “we, the people’’ still have a lot of influence, too, if we’ll just use it.

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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