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Labor Day 2018: A Labor of Love and Resentment

The American Labor Day Holiday is a counter-culture that very few understand and we’re not really supposed to

Kris LaGrange's picture
Sep 03, 2018

These are turbulent times, no one can argue that. It’s not as bad as the time our country was engaged in a Civil War or when we lost 58,000 soldiers in a war over ideals in Southeast Asia. We have lived worse moments in these United States and sadly human beings tend to repeat their history. God only knows what type of America we will be the next two or four years. Labor Day is here, and its timing is perfect. Check out this quote from Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime President of the American Federation of Labor;

Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country. All other holidays are in a degree, connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation.

Wow, Sam, that’s pretty deep. Even though these wise words were uttered over 100 years ago, the meaning still has immense relevance. Union's arent perfect and there are some things going wrong with within some labor organizations today. But on the flip side, there are still many things going right. Labor's bond and commonality is this; the theory and concept of collective bargaining – a fundamental human right which is in trouble in Trump’s ‘Merica. Public employees want to still bargain collectively even though the White House is doing everything in its power to prevent that. They tried to do away with federal unions altogether on federal property but recently the lower courts, who have not yet been corrupted, put a kibosh to that.

Trump made the Janus v. AFSCME case a reality – and now Right-to-Work is the law of the land for all employees in the public sector. The long term negative ramifications may take some time to be felt, but this attack on unions has awoken a sleeping giant. Forward-thinking labor organizations have been internally organizing for survival, while older union leaders with old-fashioned ways of doing union business, who refuse to change the way they organize and communicate, are either finally retiring or being removed.

The reputations of unions who are loyal to Trump precede them; law enforcement and some building trades unions have always existed based on the going-it-alone notion – and this is the way it has been, and that’s the way it will always be. Union members in different industries, whose organizations tend to share their power with the less fortunate, should never get frustrated with those unions that don’t play nice in the sandbox. There is more to the American Union Movement than a few organizations who let the lunatics run their looney bin.

Today’s unions are organizing - just read UCOMM Blog. For every negative thing Trump is doing to hurt collective bargaining rights, ten other things are being done to fight-back and grow. For example:

As Gompers said, “Labor Day is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation." It’s such a different way of thinking – and it’s not usual or customary in this alien nation; a country that prizes and praises the individual its lust for sexual prowess and violence. Like the Catholic Church, organized labor derives its strength from the “meek”, the average working Joe and Jill – the little guy. It’s a weird day where we don’t know what to do. We parade like those before us had, and if we have anything left over from July 4th we set off fireworks – but some of us kinda don’t know what we are doing. It's okay - many of us have little knowledge of what we celebrate or how. Say "Happy Labor Day" to someone - notice their estranged reaction. There is always a look of surprise. 

On this Labor Day 2018, I have a suggestion on doing something out of the ordinary. If you’re on the left – contact someone on the right who you rarely agree with politically and wish them a Happy Labor Day and be sincerely thankful for their brother or sisterhood. If you are on the right, do the same. Easier said than done I know, but Labor Day isn’t about you – it’s about us. The walls built to divide working peoples can only exist if we let them. We cannot forget that the right to bargain and work for fair wages and benefits is a right that is more sacred than any other right in the United States.

We say Merry Christmas for Jesus in December and goodbye King George on July 4, but on Labor Day – we do something extraordinary – we give thanks for each other, for people who work. Those who look to destroy or exploit that sentiment still to this day have not yet figured out how to stop the American Union Movement from loving each other regardless of who's President or how good or poor the economy is. 


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