Brief History Of Labor Day

Today we have a day off from work…..and that is about the extent of what Americans know about Labor Day….

Few think about the child labor laws, overtime pay, 8 hour week day or 40 hour work week and so much more…..we can thank unions for much of the benefits that we workers have today.

Where did all this begin?

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

Now you, my reader, knows more than most Americans about Labor Day……

Please go now……enjoy your BBQ, the beers, the sports and the family…..IST will return to a full posting schedule tomorrow…..

Live Long With Laughter.


Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.)

Hi Dee Ho my loyal readers… is Labor Day when the country celebrates our workers and the jobs they do……

Back in the 80’s and 90’s I was an organizer for the IWW……so today I thought I would give my readers a look into this union and its activities for the last 100 years……

The role of Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) in the history of the United States of America.

The Industrial Workers of the World was established in Chicago, in 1905, by members of the socialist-led Western Federation of Miners and other groups opposed to what they saw as “class collaboration” by the American Federation of Labor (A.F.L.).

The driving force behind the I.W.W. was William D. Haywood, the leader of the Western Federation of Miners, which had established a reputation for work stoppages in Colorado mines. Joining Haywood at the launch of the I.W.W., which he described as the “first continental congress of the working class,” were Eugene V. Debs of the Socialist Party and Daniel De Leon of the Socialist Labor Party. Also present were Mother Jones, the “angel of the miners,” and Lucy Parsons, whose husband had been executed in the Haymarket affair.

Source: Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.)

Most Americans have NO idea about the IWW and the important part they played in American Labor……

This may not be my only post today….for I want to spend some time with family…..doing the BBQ thing and a few beers…..but Labor Day is an important day and an important part of our history.

I hope everyone has a wonderful day…..I will be back tomorrow.

Let’s All Cheer For The TPP

Yet another trade agreement…..all this sad events was began with Hillary’s hubby and his disastrous NAFTA… has done more to crap on the American worker than just about anything the GOP could have done…..and Obama not to be outdone by Bubba has his own piece crap trade agreement……The Trans-Pacific Trade agreement (TPP)…….

From the beginning of the process I said it was a horrible piece of trash…..but few listened or opposed and now the rest of the story has been told…..thanx to Tufts University…..

Source: Tufts Univ. Report: TPP Means Inequality, Lost Jobs, Lower Wages | PopularResistance.Org

This is what we get when these types of things are done in secret……once again it is about the cash not the jobs……and that is what American “democracy” is always about…..the profit and the profit……period!

As an added bonus….NAFTA did a lot to kill the family farm and make big agri-business the way we produce food…….I read a piece recently about the small farm and would like everyone’s opinion…….

“In Canada, I have the frustrating habit of criticizing government support to the agricultural sector especially entry-barriers in the form of production quotas. Most of those policies are regressive in the sense that they reallocate income from the poorest to the richest. In fact, their entire aim is to artificially increase the income of farmers (especially dairy and poultry farmers) at the expense of the rest of the population. However, when lobbyists for these subsidies come out in public, they do so under different disguises. Their favorite? Farms are dying.” (01/14/16)

If you are still not sure if the TPP is bad or not then look NO further than the GOP…..they have very little opposition to the deal….pretty much shows me who will benefit from the agreement….and guess what?  It ain’t YOU!

Nothing good has come out of any trade agreement since NAFTA……Americans are NO better off for their implementation… you tell me…..who are those that enact these failures really work for….I would like your opinions…..

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100 years later: 5 timeless lessons from Joe Hill

A couple of decades ago I was a delegate for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)…..a union organizer and activist…..and back in the early years of the 20th century when labor was starting to organize to help workers and their lives…….labor is still as despised as it was make in the day on difference is they use political games instead of baseball bats to defeat the movement…….back in the beginning  there was an organizer named Joe Hill….

In 1902, after the death of his parents, Joe and his brother Paul immigrated to America where they expected to “scrape gold off the ground.” After working various jobs in New York City, Joe moved to Chicago and found work in a machine shop. Shortly thereafter, he was fired from his job and blacklisted for attempting to organize the workers. As a result, Joel Haaglund changed his name to Joe Hill. He traveled extensively around the country before joining the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in San Pedro, California in 1910.

Joe quickly became immersed in the IWW and devoted his life to the “awakening of ‘illiterates’ and ‘scum’ to an original, personal conception of society and the realization of the dignity and rights of their part in it.” He wrote songs like “The Preacher and the Slave” and “Casey Jones – the Union Scab” to inspire solidarity in the ranks of the IWW and to recruit new members. He encouraged a “conscientious withdrawal of efficiency,” which was not a call for violence, but rather a sprinkle of sand in the workings of machinery, and, more specifically, the efforts of non-union friendly employers.

In 1914, on his way from California to Chicago, Hill stopped to earn some money in the Utah mines. There he encountered three friends who he had met while working in San Pedro: Otto Applequist and the Eselius Brothers. Edward and John Eselius allowed Joe to live at their house as a guest. Otto Applequist was one of Joe’s closest friends and may have been involved in the alleged murder of the Morrison’s. Joe Hill was eventually convicted of murdering John and Arling Morrison, and took his last breath in Utah before the firing squad. His trip to Chicago was eventually completed – in a casket.

There many things that Joe Hill teaches the labor movement……things that can be applied today….things that would make the American worker more important than they are today……

Source: 100 years later: 5 timeless lessons from Joe Hill

Never Too Young

America has had a proud tradition of fighting against child labor…….especially in the early years of the 20th century……but in case my reader needs a reminder…….

1904 National Child Labor Committee forms……… Aggressive national campaign for federal child labor law reform begins

1916 New federal law sanctions state violators……. First federal child labor law prohibits movement of goods across state lines if minimum age laws are violated (law in effect only until 1918, when it’s declared unconstitutional, then revised, passed, and declared unconstitutional again)

1924 First attempt to gain federal regulation fails……….. Congress passes a constitutional amendment giving the federal government authority to regulate child labor, but too few states ratify it and it never takes effect

1936 Federal purchasing law passes Walsh-Healey Act ………..states U.S. government will not purchase goods made by underage children

1937 Second attempt to gain federal regulation fails…………. Second attempt to ratify constitutional amendment giving federal government authority to regulate child labor falls just short of getting necessary votes

1937 New federal law sanctions growers Sugar Act makes sugar beet growers ineligible for benefit payments if they violate state minimum age and hours of work standards

1938 Federal regulation of child labor achieved in Fair Labor Standards Act……… For the first time, minimum ages of employment and hours of work for children are regulated by federal law.

I know….thanks for the history lesson but why bring all this up?  I read some news the other day that made me think about the history I just wrote about………

Children are toiling in unsafe conditions, suffering everything from breathing problems to vomiting, and putting in 12-hour days and 72-hour weeks. Think we’re talking a third-world sweatshop? It’s what’s happening right now on US tobacco farms, Human Rights Watch alleges in a report today. The group spoke to 141 tobacco farm workers aged 7 to 17, and found that many came in bare-skin contact with tobacco plants. That can cause acute nicotine poisoning—and indeed, 66% of those polled reported symptoms consistent with that, including dizziness, nausea, and headaches.

“On the first day when I was working [chemicals] got on my face a lot and I didn’t know until I got home later that my face was burning,” one 13-year-old worker tells the BBC. US labor laws protecting child laborers have exceptions for agricultural jobs, the group explains, allowing children of any age to work the fields, and those 12 and older to work unlimited hours. An attempt to change that for tobacco farms died in 2012. HRW shared its findings with tobacco producers, and most expressed concern. Philip Morris, which has the toughest child labor policy, tells Reuters that it believes there’s an opportunity to impose an industry-wide standard. The complete report is here.

Child labor is something we here in the US condemn 3rd world countries for allowing to exist… is not something that needs to be watched in our country, right?

There was a time and a place when child labor could have made some sense…..but today a child needs to be educated….not working his ass off in some field.

Labor For Life

In my younger more impetuous days I was a labor organizer and since then I am always reading about the movement and trying to decide where it is going in this country…….

In modern politics the word labor and unions are dirty words in conservative circles……..this institution has been blamed for all sorts of woes…it has been blamed for a wide array of situations from the high cost of cars to poor educational performance to the unwanted outcome of elections… short…..unions are the anti-Christ in some corners.

The perfectly executed character assassination of unions has, in my opinion, has lead to a weakening of labor’s position in the workplace which in turn has slowly fueled the demise of the middle class….

Fast forward to this week……the ‘big story’ has been the union vote in a VW plant in Tennessee on whether to unionize or not….BTW the union lost out in that vote…..they voted to NOT unionize…….

The obvious loser in last week’s failed bid to unionize the Volkswagen auto plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., was the United Auto Workers. The union was counting on a victory at the German-owned plant, which stayed officially neutral in the unionizing effort but hinted it welcomed a platform for organizing other plants in the South.

But the vote — and the forces that had arrayed themselves against the UAW — could also represent a setback for the economy and blue- and white-collar employees, a number of auto-industry and economic experts suggested.

U.S. management and labor organizations have battled each other —with both sides wasting resources in the process — ever since Frederick Winslow Taylor used his “scientific” methods a century ago to de-skill and control production workers, explained James P. Womack, founder of the Lean Enterprise Institute in Cambridge, Mass., and a co-author of “The Machine That Changed The World.” For Womack, the acrimonious fight and vote in Chattanooga was part of a historical continuum that has often hobbled U.S. industry, especially in the face of international competitors who embraced much more collaborative approaches to management.

My personal opinion was that it would not succeed in unionizing the plant….after all it is in the South and Right To Work is strong in the region…….so was the vote a big win for VW?  I thought so until I read another article shortly after the vote…….

The head of Volkswagen’s General Works Councils in Germany is threatening to block any further investment in the southern United States, Reuters reports, after workers at VW’s Chattanooga plant voted against union representation. “I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the United States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the South again,’ Bernd Osterloh said. “We as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor” of one. Osterloh blames US conservatives for stirring up “massive anti-union sentiments.” He serves on a 20-member supervisory board split evenly between workers and management that could block future investments unless Chattanooga gets a German-style workers’ council. VW would still like to create a council without the United Auto Workers union, the New York Times reports, but legal experts say that might violate federal laws against company-controlled worker groups. Some anti-UAW workers have offered to set up an alternative union to get around the problem.

An interesting turn of the screw, right?  With all that info in hgand, who would you say was the big winner in this situation?

Please throwing your hat into this conversation.  I would like to have as many thoughts as possible……