Labor Day, on the first Monday in September, is a U.S. holiday that honors workers and the labor movement. It’s also the popular end of summer.
International Workers’ Day
Most countries celebrate International Workers’ Day on May 1.
We don’t because the U.S. government didn’t want our celebration associated with the Haymarket riot in Chicago on May 4, 1886. And since the Russian Revolution of 1917, May 1 has been downplayed to avoid any association with that.
So we celebrate Labor Day in September.
Organized Labor is Important
Modern history is a struggle between owners and workers. Things go bad when either becomes too strong.
When the owners are too strong, they take too much of the wealth created by workers. Most of the wealth created during the last business cycle (2008-2020) has benefited the investor class. It’s why financial journalists are now writing about a “K” shaped recovery with the investor class benefiting and the worker class continuing to lose ground.
It’s a bad situation because civilization becomes unstable and collapses when the gap between rich and poor gets too wide.
When workers are too strong, we end up with silly work rules like we had in the 1970s. That doesn’t work in a globalized world. There will always be someone somewhere who will do the job for less, and never say, “that’s not my job.”
We need to find a balance. Economies stagnate when wealth is distributed unequally.
Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motors understood that. Realizing that his own workers couldn’t afford his cars, he increased wages and guess what happened? He sold more cars and made more money.
Fairer wealth distribution benefits everyone. That’s why we need to protect and support the Labor Movement now.
Labor Day Began in New York City
The first Labor Day celebration was a parade organized by the Central Labor Union in Union Square on September 5, 1882.
This famous photograph was a public relations picture taken during the construction of Rockefeller Center. The round dome at the bottom left is New York City Center on 55th St. Central Park is visible above the workers’ on the right.