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Steven Kurlander

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False Labor Commemoration: It's Time to Let Go of the Labor Day Holiday

Posted: 09/02/2013 3:48 pm

Today, we Americans are "celebrating" yet another Labor Day.

For most, it's just one of those holidays, like Veteran's Day, President's Days, and even Thanksgiving where the true significance of the holiday barely encroaches on the psyche of our country's consciousness.

Sure, a lot of Americans are going through the motions and "celebrating" this official three day weekend by barbecuing, taking family trips, and hitting the malls for holiday bargains.

And although they may have a lack of focus on the true meaning of the Labor Day holiday, most Americans are not very happy about their plight as workers or their future in the workforce. They are too worried about making their next mortgage payment, or if they are going to be laid off (again), made part time or be made to work harder and more overtime for the same pay.

Maybe the "celebration" of Labor Day should just stop altogether because it is in fact a big misnomer of a holiday.

Ask most American workers today if they are feeling confident about the American economy, their employment opportunities, and their chance of retirement these days, and most will answer in the negative.

They will tell you there's nothing to celebrate today in terms of their labor.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, whose alleged mission is "foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights," this is why we Americans celebrate Labor Day:

"Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."

That's a lie. The fact is that Labor Day was created in part by President Grover Cleveland and Congress not to celebrate the American workforce, but to placate American workers in the 1890s who were turning more violent in their struggle to achieve a decent working wage and many of the worker rights we take for granted, and are now losing, like the 40-hour work week, child labor laws, and Social Security protection.

It is tough to think today about the American worker in terms of achievement and contributions in a country that has been weakened both economically and socially by their continual sanctioned exploitation and diminishing of their ability to grow and succeed in the workplace.

Unlike generations before them, they must instead try to keep their job in the face of both amazing technological advances that drives downsizing and demands for more work at less pay as well as rabid competition from international workers who are paid much less and exploited much more under the guise of free trade and internationalism.

So let us be honest. In 2013, maybe this holiday instead should be called "Labored Day."

The truth is that this "Labored Day," as we drive paying close to $4 a gallon for gas and munch our more expensive, smaller hot dogs and buns, we should all be thinking about how badly the American worker has fared under both Republican and Democrat administrations for the last two or three generations.

Maybe we need to consider how the government lies with its antiquated collection and calculation of statistics like the Consumer Price Index and the Unemployment Rate that mask the erosion of both the prosperity and power of workers in the American workplace.

More importantly, we need to ask why our debt-ridden college kids and how our poorly educated minorities and high school dropouts don't even have a chance to enter the workforce these days. They are all so much more screwed than their parent's generation.

So unlike the 1890s, there's no one speaking up or fighting for the average American worker in 2013, not the co-opted unions, not the bought politicians, not a mainstream media owned by multinational conglomerates, and not the lying, uncaring, and unaccountable local, state and federal governments and bureaucracies.

The result: American workers continue to lose significant ground and must face a daily struggle to try to maintain their diminished lifestyle and to even to make ends meet.

So seriously, maybe take a moment and think about it today: Why celebrate Labor Day at all anymore?

Published in The Florida Squeeze.

Steven Kurlander is an attorney and communications strategist that blogs at Kurly's Kommentary, The Huffington Post, The Florida Squeeze, and Context Florida. He can be emailed at kurly@stevenkurlander.com

 

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