Today’s Labor Day in the U.S., and while the rest of the country is off to the beach or having barbecues, I’m sitting in front of a computer. I’ve got to finish the abstract for my presentation (how, exactly, are you supposed to explain an entire project in 250 words?) and the presentation itself. Presentations are always a problem for me because I have that horrible trait combination of procrastination and perfectionism. I finally sat down to make the PowerPoint on Friday, and discovered that I needed to make or steal 30 figures. Ugh.
Anyway, I wanted to say a bit about Labor Day, which has mutated into a sad shadow of what it once was. Labor Day is not meant to, as the U.S. DoL says and so many people think, “pay tribute … to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.” Labor Day started as a massive — and illegal — strike in Hamilton and Toronto that forced the Canadian government to pass the Trade Union Act. An American labor leader named Peter McGuire saw one of the celebrations that marked the anniversary of the Canadian strike, and managed to convince Grover Cleveland to rush Labor Day through congress.
Of course, the only reason that it was passed is that they were scared shitless. Industry’s bosses’ practice of simply murdering union leaders was working about as well as our whack-a-mole strategy for terrorism, unionists were getting upset about being mudered, and the philosophy of the Molly Maguires was becoming more and more attractive to more and more people.
So as you drink your cold Coors Light (*gag*) today, remember that the reason you have a day off is the same reason that you don’t work 14 hours a day in miserable conditions (unless you’re a medical intern, of course). Unionists fought and died, and are still fighting and dying, for the rights of workers. And also remember that Coors has an atrocious record of union busting.