Labor Day is here and what a year it’s been, filled with talk of the working class and what can be done to fix it. Donald Trump went to Mexico and to Phoenix on Wednesday and talked about issues at the core of the middle-class struggle. Labor Day has an important history that is just as relevant today as it ever was.
For starters, Labor Day is the first Monday in September and usually marks the end of Summer vacation for school children. It was created by the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of the American worker.
The day was first recognized by the government in 1885 and was first made into a law in Oregon on February 21, 1887. On June 28, 1894, after most of the states had already voted to recognize it, Congress made the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.
Labor Day was established as a “workingmen’s holiday” and to show pride in, and thank, the American workers. The very first Labor Day held a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the workers and their families to take part in. This tradition is still carried out in cities and towns across the country.
Labor Day is so important because being working class is something we should all take pride in. However, at some point in the last 30 or 40 years, it became something to look down on, blue collar became an insult. You still see people telling their kids that if they don’t go to college they will be forced to be a ditch digger or some other form of manual labor, but really what is so wrong with that? Workers built this country with their blood, sweat, and tears, and no one should think that they are better than that.
It used to be that you could be a carpenter or a tradesman of some sort and be considered upper middle class along with doctors and successful businessman. Those days are sadly gone. Now a skilled carpenter is lucky if he can make $15 an hour. Some of this is a direct result of immigration, but it is a larger issue of sending our jobs overseas and undervaluing jobs that require a skill and not a college education. This must end.
The working class is no longer middle class and in their absence, the middle class is dwindling and disappearing. Everyone can agree that the middle class needs help and I hope that we can give them the help they need and restore them to something to be proud in. After all, the majority of America has to work.
So raise a toast in your and everyone else’s honor on Monday, enjoy your day off, and take pride in the knowledge that you work for a living.
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