Remembering Labor

Labor Day is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. How ironic that today’s celebration of Labor Day finds organized labor villified and under assault from the Republican Party and Tea Party movement. It is apparent that the right is dedicated to taking us back to the gilded age. As we celebrate Labor Day, we must also be mindful that the very workers who have contributed to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country have a painful problem - too many are unemployed and their prospects for employment have never been so dim since the Great Depression.

Musing about labor, its contributions and its problems, I could not help but to go back in years. I remember my immigrant father toiling away in a men’s garment factory. I remember my immigrant father embracing the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America as a lifeline to a decent wage and working condition. I remember my immigrant father working the polls on Election Day for the American Labor Party.

American Labor Party logo
Labor leaders and liberals organized the American Labor party in New York in 1936, primarily to support Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal and the men favoring it in national and local elections. It gathered strength in New York State and particularly in New York City and had considerable weight there in tipping the scales toward chosen Democratic or Republican candidates. Internal strife eventually led to its demise. Perhaps the day has come for a new “American Labor Party”.

One thing for sure, in spite of the depressed job market, labor must learn the lessons of the ’30’s and start a solidarity movement to regain its strengths and once again become a force in this country’s future.

I write this fully cognizant that I spent my working career in management. I even was part of a management team  at an arbitration hearing seeking to end a nasty strike ( I'm sure that my father was rolling over in his grave). I recognize that labor must bear some guilt for its abuse of power  but I respect the contributions of the labor movement to the growth of this country. More importantly, I am grateful for the labors of my father and my mother which gave me an opportunity for a better life than they had.

ed note: Two years ago I wrote a post about Labor Day . Sad to say nothing has changed in two years as far as the job outlook is concerned.

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