August 31, 2001

Editorial

Labor Day : The Day of The Worker

"Labor Day" was set aside over a hundred years ago as a special holiday to honor the men and women whose labor and hard work were a major contribution to the growth and success of this nation. Over the years there has been a tendency to denigrate the role of the working people of this country and to diminish their importance in our society. With the advent and growth of so-called high tech jobs, a line of demarcation has been drawn between those who work in trades and who have become successful using the skills they have learned on the job, be it in building homes, working in the steel mills, or automobile plants of our country, and those who believe that working mostly with their minds on abstract functions somehow makes them superior beings. They have forgotten that "anyone who draws a paycheck" is a member of the working class.

The division between those who created the infrastructure of our society and those who grew rich off of their labor made it clear to the working class of early America that the class system imported from the Anglo-European countries must be prevented from taking root.

The effort to sustain the European class structure in America was suffered until the late 1800s when the first labor unrest began in Canada. There the Toronto Trades Assembly organized the first North American mass demonstration against the owners of the means of production. America soon followed suit in 1882 when the leaders of the International Association of Machinists in Patterson, New Jersey revolted against the oppression they were suffering. The labor movement had begun and would not be stopped until class distinctions were diminished and decent working and living conditions became the law of the nation

Labor Day became a legal holiday for the workingmen/women of the U.S.A. It was a creation of the labor unions of our country. They had put their lives on the line to fight the oppressive owners of factories and their monopolistic brethren who controlled the financial markets of this country. Labor Day should be used to remember the actions and history of this movement in which thousands of working-class Americans put their lives on the line for the right to benefit from and share in the wealth that they helped create in this country. As one Laborite said, " we brought you the weekend and stopped the virtual slavery enforced in this country by the ruling classes."

At a time when America has become a society in which 20 percent of the population owns or controls over 85 percent of the wealth in this country while the rest struggle to survive on the remainder, a growing hostility permeates our country. It behooves the leaders of the various labor movements and their members to take steps to remedy the growing situation that has created a defacto "class society" in this country.

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