Column by Sen. Charles "Chuck" Wiger
is easy to forget why we celebrate Labor Day.
Most people know that it
is the last day of the State Fair and generally think of it as the
unofficial end of summer. Labor Day is those things, but it is also so
much more than that. It is a time to remember our past struggles and
appreciate the people who helped make our country what it is today.
The first Labor Day celebration was held in 1882 in New York City. During the next few years more cities passed ordinances celebrating the holiday, and in 1887 Oregon became the first state to pass a law recognizing Labor Day. Seven years later, Labor Day become a national holiday when Congress passed legislation making the first Monday in September Labor Day.
idea behind Labor Day is simple: pay tribute to the contributions
workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our
country. It is important to take time to thank workers, both past and
present, who have improved our lives.
Many aspects we take for granted now were hard fought struggles for many years. Things like child labor laws, a 40-hour work week, overtime pay, health insurance, workers compensation insurance and safe working conditions were won in labor fights.
These are provisions we now see as obvious rights, but for many years they were not. Labor Day was created to recognize and thank the workforce, but the other 364 days a year many laborers were subject to brutal working conditions.
So while we celebrate this wonderful holiday and we show our appreciation to workers, it is essential to not forget the efforts of those who came before us. Brave men and women risked a lot in order to secure rights that we have today. We still see people fighting for workers rights today. The struggle is not over.
It is only fitting to share a quote about labor from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of his “I Had A Dream” speech.
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
You can learn more about Labor Day by visiting http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm.
As always, please contact me with any questions, concerns, thoughts or ideas you have. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is 651-296-6820. It is never too early to start thinking about what we can do together in 2014.