Don’t take labor’s gains for granted

By: 
Chuck Kajer, The New Prague Times

On Monday, Sept. 2, we celebrate Labor Day.
Typically considered the end of the summer recreation season, most people don’t put much thought into the holiday and its history and meaning.
Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894.
Why should we celebrate Labor Day? It was because of the labor movement that most Americans enjoy an eight-hour work day, a living wage, safe job conditions and a job that offers vacation, sick leave and health insurance and other benefits and laws that restrict the age of workers and the number of hours children can work. In the late 1800s, the average American worked 12 hour days, six or seven days a week, in order to eke out a basic living and in some states, young children worked long hours in factories, earning a fraction of what their older counterparts earned. The Labor Movement helped to make these benefits the norm for most workers.
While a “traditional” Labor Day 100 years ago included parades of workers, speeches and large celebrations, today, most people are content to enjoy a day off of work and spending time with families and friends. Perhaps that is a sign of the success of those who fought for these benefits that are now the norm. But we need to remember how we got them, and can’t take them for granted, or they might just disappear.

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