Americans look at Labor Day in many ways. As a three-day weekend, or the end of summer, or back to school, or the start of the ‘political season’. No matter what your plans, take a few minutes to consider why we celebrate labor Day.
The original intent of Labor Day was to provide a holiday to honor the social, technical, and economic achievements of American workers and their unions. It was intended to be, and in may ways remains, an annual national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our nation.
And Labor Day 2015 is an excellent opportunity to honor the 80th anniversary of National Labor Relations Act(NLRA).
Signed into law in 1935 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as part of the “New Deal”, the NLRA gave working people the opportunity to stand together and organize for better wages and working conditions. And it created the Nation Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency vested with the power to safeguard employees’ rights.
Throughout its history, the NLRA has proven itself to be the great equalizer in the fight for a balanced American economy that works for everyone.
FDR had it right 70 years ago in his ‘Four Freedoms’ speech. He said the basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple.
“They are: Equality of opportunity for youth and for others. Jobs for those who can work. Security for those who need it. The ending of special privilege for the few. The preservation of civil liberties for all.”
Today, in the world of small government, the deregulation of industry and finance, and unlimited political spending, Roosevelt’s words might seem quaint.
But those who feel the recovery has passed them by are starting to get the message that government can level the playing field and organizing or joining a union makes a real difference. A recent poll showed that now 51 percent of Americans have a favorable view of labor unions, up 10 percentage points since 2011.
While there is much more work to do – that’s something to celebrate.
Happy Labor Day.