Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day

If you work, or know someone who does Labor Day should be close to your heart. American workers didn't always have weekends, or workers comp, or unemployment insurance, or safety regulations...

In 1835 Children employed in the silk mills in Paterson, New Jersey went on strike so they could work only 11-hour days , 6 days a week. Not a bad schedule if you are 10.

July 6 1892 Homestead Strike -- Pinkerton Guards, trying to pave the way for the introduction of scabs, opened fire on striking Carnegie mill steel-workers in Homestead, Pennsylvania. In the ensuing battle, three Pinkerton's surrendered; then, unarmed, they were set upon and beaten by a mob of townspeople, most of them women. Seven guards and eleven strikers and spectators were shot to death.

 November 22 1909  The New York shirtwaist strike of 1909 (Uprising of the 20,000). Female garment workers went on strike in New York; many were arrested. A judge told those arrested: "You are on strike against God."

The America these workers worked in had no unions. No government regulation. They gave their hearing, maybe a eye or arm, so we could enjoy a safe workplace. They fought for worker compensation so when they got tangled in that giant machine with no guard on that big wheel they could have medical care, and not just bleed to death, while millionaire factory owners screamed MORE PRODUCTION.

American workers risked everything! Forming  Unions and forcing employers to improve working conditions, and provide a living wage. Some gave their lives fighting for what most workers today, take for granted... 8 hour day Weekend.. Unemployment  Insurance. Workers Compensation Insurance. Health Care Insurance.

This labor day as some seek to do away with everything workers have fought for I stand with my union brothers and sisters, remembering those who went before us, and standing for a better world for all.

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