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Editorial: Labor Day

Sunday, September 2, 2007

What do you say about a holiday that celebrates working Americans with three days off from work?

Here is one tribute to the nation's workers, adapted from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin's Labor Day editorial last year:

While many Americans kick back and enjoy time off over this Labor Day weekend, there are numerous others for whom Labor Day means just another shift at the grill, the ticket booth or behind the wheel of a delivery truck.

Indispensable workers -- lifeguards, firefighters, police, nurses, doctors -- are, as usual, on duty and are duly appreciated for providing the services and safety necessary no matter what.

There are a host of others who make this holiday pleasurable. Without them, you couldn't get a short stack of pancakes with a side of sausage to fuel up for the lounge chair. Nor could you catch a matinee, stroll through a museum, pick up some steaks for a barbecue or watch a game on television.

At the outset, the holiday was envisioned as one purely for working people, bred by a group of New York City union laborers who on a September morning in 1882 gave up their wages to march around Union Square in support of the idea.

It was not until 1894, when President Cleveland -- hoping to tamp down hostilities prompted when he sent troops to break up a railway strike -- signed a bill passed unanimously by a Congress skittish about upcoming elections.

The holiday has evolved into a last-hurrah for the summer season and an occasion for retail sales.

Most workers go unobserved. They are invisibles, the people behind the scenes who make sure water flows from taps and sewage goes down the drains, who take reservations for restaurants, skim hotel pools.

Workers and the money they earn make the world go 'round. They deserve recognition this weekend, particularly since many remain on the job.

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The author of the article titled "Labor Day" is correct in his/her history of Labor Day except for a few facts. The first Labor Day was in New York and started with about 400 people and it grew, with buisness owners objecting, to over 10,000. Union and non-union alike they gathered to celebrate their day. Refer to the child labor that was going on at this time in our history and the abuses workers suffered on the job. Slavery still being practiced even though against the law. Labor deserves this day of recognition for the battles it faced and still the battles that are facing them in this record trade defecit and bad economy.

As for the workers that still have to work, I agree they too should be recognized. I am sure their corporate owners and CEOs are off. These workers are generally the service workers. The same ones who generally work everyday, not just Labor Day, but Easter, Christmas, ect... If they are organized they probably receive time and half compensation in recognition of working on this day. If they belong to a big non-union corporation like Wal Mart or McDonalds they probably get nothing. Labor Day is a very special day for my family. We look at it as a day on not a day off, and walk in the St Louis Parade and give thanks for the many blessings Labor has bestowed upon us.

-- Posted by Ben Labor on Sun, Sep 2, 2007, at 8:14 PM

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