Archive for Thursday, August 28, 2008

Honoring the American worker

August 28, 2008

The first Labor Day holiday was a picnic celebrated on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City and was organized by the Central Labor Union. Two years later the first Monday in September was selected for the holiday. By this time it had spread to other states and many industrial centers of the country. The first governmental recognition of the day was passed in 1887 in New York City. In 1894 Congress passed a law recognizing Labor Day as an official national holiday.

The strength, prosperity and well being of our country is due to the American worker. Therefore it is good to honor them with a special day. In 1884 there was a large parade in New York City celebrating the working class and this took hold all over the country.

In May 1944 at age 16, I joined the work force. As summer part-time help, I had to get a work permit, and at age 18, I joined the Teamsters Union and became a union steward in my 20s. This was a terrific learning experience about human nature. It did not take me long to realize that most problems were not between the worker and the management but problems between the workers themselves. Most union contracts have ways to settle that. A union is only as strong as the member's involvement. I was able to sit in on union contracts when we went to a five-day work week during the Eisenhower administration, because that would put more people to work. At that time, people were walking the streets looking for jobs, and this was a way help that situation. The 32 years I was in the Teamsters Union, we did not have a strike and we were always able to have discussions across the table to settle any problems.

All of this was possible because Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy.

Have a wonderful Labor Day and thank an American worker for all our good times. We plan to go on a picnic with friends.

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