All that Labor Day Weekend represents to most citizens of the US is the last chance to party before returning to school, backyard barbecues, and Labor Day Weekend Sales. Did I mention partying?
It could hardly be otherwise. The one-percent owns everything. They use media to bombard US workers with messages subliminal and not to go out and buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have.
The one-percent uses its stranglehold on the economy to get its way and make certain few if any citizens who might be outraged (the educated including teachers, college professors and others too enlightened to be outraged) have any knowledge of events that brought about a particular holiday.
This is of course a sad reality. It’s sad because so few citizens of this nation have a clue why they celebrate any occasion and least of all, Labor Day.
“Labour Day (Labor Day in the USA) is an annual holiday to celebrate the achievements of workers. Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. For many countries, Labour Day is synonymous with, or linked with, International Workers’ Day, which occurs on 1 May. For other countries, Labour Day is celebrated on a different date, often one with special significance for the labour movement in that country.”
“Far-right governments have traditionally sought to repress the message behind International Workers’ Day, with fascist governments in Portugal, Italy, Germany and Spain abolishing the workers’ holiday.”
In the “far-right” USA the day was moved away from the date on which the day is traditionally celebrated, May 1, in 1887 because US President Grover Cleveland was afraid that celebrating “Labor Day” in May so soon after the Haymarket Massacre would too closely associate the occasion with the labor movement and he and the one-percent he served would have none of that.
The original date May 1 was the day originally promoted to observe the plight of laborers, i.e. workers. The Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor had been the driving force behind the original concept.
Just as we have minimum wage workers today working at what are really slave labor rates so it has been throughout the history of this nation.
However, unlike present day workers, laborers and workers of old protested like they meant it. That’s the reason we all work an 8-hour day. But for the struggle, the lives and livelihoods sacrificed by liberals today’s GOPers, Blue Dogs and Tea Partyers would be too busy working to attend town hall meetings to rail against liberals.
In the late 19th Century, 1894 to be exact, there was a nationwide railroad strike known as “The Pullman Strike.”
Then as now the one-percent were waging “class warfare” on what many perceive as the defenseless, the working class, unions and their rank and file.
That strike and boycott essentially shut down this nation’s freight and passenger rail traffic. The strike was the union’s push back after the one-percent reduced the wages of the railroad employees.
But it was so much more than just about “cutting wages.” The egregious railroad owners had what amount to reservations normally reserved for the likes of “Native Americans” for its employees.
Most factory workers who built Pullman cars lived in the planned worker community of Pullman on the South Side of Chicago. The industrialist George Pullman had designed it as a model community, but he controlled it thoroughly. When his company laid off workers and lowered wages, it did not reduce rents, and the workers called for a strike.
President Grover Cleveland directed US Attorney General Richard Olney (who had previously been a lawyer for the railroads) to handle the strike.
The attorney general obtained an injunction to halt the strike. The strikers naturally ignored the injunction. President Cleveland called out federal troops.
“City by city the federal forces broke the ARU efforts to shut down the national transportation system. Thousands of United States Marshals and some 12,000 United States Army troops, commanded by Brigadier General Nelson Miles, took action. President Cleveland wanted the trains moving again, based on his legal, constitutional responsibility for the mails. His lawyers argued that the boycott violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, and represented a threat to public safety. The arrival of the military and the subsequent deaths of workers in violence led to further outbreaks of violence. During the course of the strike, 30 strikers were killed and 57 were wounded. Property damage exceeded $80 million.”
The public then as now was made up of a majority racial group and predictably opposed the strike and defended President Cleveland’s misanthropic defense of the one-percent.
Media, then as now, was one-percent owned and gave negative coverage of the event. “A common trope in news reports and editorials depicted the boycotters as foreigners who contested the patriotism expressed by the militias and troops involved, as numerous recent immigrants worked in the factories and on the railroads. The editors warned of mobs, aliens, anarchy, and defiance of the law. The New York Times called it “a struggle between the greatest and most important labor organization and the entire railroad capital.”
As the majority race population loves to do President Cleveland appointed a “commission” to look into the slaughter.
Against all odds or maybe as a shakedown the “commission” “found George Pullman’s paternalism partly to blame and described the operations of his company town to be “un-American”. In 1898, the Illinois Supreme Court forced the Pullman Company to divest ownership in the town, as its company charter did not authorize such operations, and the land was annexed to Chicago.
Things don’t “change.”
Almost 120 years later he we are again under siege. The one-percent’s class warfare on the working poor continues. What better reason to celebrate “Labor Day.” Labor is of course something about which the privileged ruling class knows little except that it’s for the likes of you and me.
From Texas Red: a cratered landscape of for profit prisons, deplorable apartheid public education, lack of healthcare and politicians and majority population intent on keeping it that way…