What does Labor Day Mean to You?
While I was growing up, Labor Day always signified the start of school in the fall. That is no longer true. Many schools now begin at varying times, usually in August and some colleges even begin toward the end of September. However, for many, Labor Day does signify the end of summer and beginning of fall.
Labor Day began as a union holiday, promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor. They organized the first parade in New York City in 1887. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty states officially celebrated Labor Day.
Labor Day: Official National Holiday
President Grover Cleveland officially made Labor Day a national holiday. The United States Congress also unanimously voted to approve the creation of Labor Day. I’m not sure congress has ever had a unanimous vote since then! However, Labor Day was an attempt to shore up support among trade unions following the Pullman Strike, a nationwide railroad strike. The Pullman Strike essentially stopped the railroads running in much of the western U.S.
Whether or not you are a fan of unions, it’s interesting to understand the true origin of Labor Day. The Pullman Strike organized workers that were laid off suddenly or had their wages drastically cut. After a huge clash, including dispatched U.S. troops to end the strike, the Pullman Strike had served its purpose. It ushered in an era of widespread unionization.
What About Those Unions?
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Union membership has gradually declined. Large organizations, as Walmart, have resisted unionization, although they are influenced by unionized groups. They understand that every time you add on extra membership fees and benefits, the price of business goes up and that is passed along to the customer. It’s just common sense.
They also understand that when you honor those you hire with fair wages, (union or no union) most of the time they step up in their performance. Even though the term fair wage may not be congruent in your mind with Walmart’s policies, they manage to be one of the largest employers in the world. And they employ many people in areas where employment is direly needed and appreciated, giving back to the communities where they are located.
Attitude of Gratitude
No matter what your job or career, take time this Labor Day to be thankful for your work. I am a part of a union – the Los Angeles musician’s union – but I’ve always paid those I’ve hired higher wages than their stated minimums. By doing so, I have been able to work with some incredible world-class musicians in my concerts and studio work. I haven’t needed a union to tell me what to charge. The market usually dictates that fairly well.
The original meaning of Labor Day is sometimes lost. I never thought about it growing up. I just loved the day off, usually to go swimming in a neighbor’s pool. When I was carrying our first son, born at a whopping ten pounds, Labor Day carried an entirely different meaning. I looked forward to a complete night’s sleep without maneuvering a beach-ball sized extension of my belly. I looked forward to my Labor Day of delivery.
No matter how you celebrate this year, begin with an attitude of gratefulness and thankfulness for your work. You may feel stuck where you are, but we are in a free country where you can reinvent yourself and you can dream, even developing most any business. (see Entrepreneur magazine-it’s one of my favorites!) Our freedom is a huge gift –don’t take that for granted. And whether your Labor Day signifies new beginnings of relationships, a job, education or even the birth of a child or grandchild, remember those who fought hard for your freedoms and your individual choice to work in this country. Happy Labor Day!
Your Core Competency and Your Work
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DEBORAH JOHNSON: Helping others Get Unstuck with Healthy Mental Code. Speaking, Concerts, In-Depth Workshops. Most recent book Bad Code: Overcoming Bad Mental Code That Sabotages Your Life! You can reach Deborah the following ways:Twitter:@DJWorksMusic • YouTube ; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deborah.johnson; Websites: https://GoalsForYourLife.com; https://DJWorksMusic.com
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