Labor Day, A Reprise


Waiter, New Haven, Connecticut © Steven Willard

Whether you support labor and unions, or side with management, the fact is that this Labor Day finds us with far too many people unemployed or under employed; and too many who are working are working for minimum wage with no health benefits. Additionally, the large pool of unemployed keeps pressure on those who are working at unsatisfactory jobs. There is always someone willing to work for those wages if they are not. They simply have no leverage.

It is ironic that Labor Day was enacted in 1894 by President Grover Cleveland as an appeasement to labor after he used Federal troops to break a strike by the American Railroad Union (ARU). The ARU was supporting a strike by the Pullman Car Company employees who had gone on strike over a reduction of wages. Over 250,000 employees were involved, and rail traffic was virtually halted nation wide. Thirteen railroad workers were killed. There seemed to be no one who could persuade to two sides to bargain or compromise.

Today we are represented by a Congress which is either unable or unwilling to seek common ground. The result is far more costly than the strike that resulted in the creation of Labor Day, and there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it.

Labor Day would be an ideal time for our leaders to announce policies to rectify our unemployment problems and start to put people back to work, but as too many know, wishes don’t put food on the table.

Canon G10, converted to black and white in Photoshop CS4.


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