“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
As Labor Day — the unofficial end of summer approaches, I like to recall this famous quote from Dr. King. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity – and on Labor Day it’s important to recognize that all labor, in its many forms, is important. Labor Day, falling on Monday, Sept. 7 this year, 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.
The idea behind celebrating this 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.
As we celebrate this wonderful holiday and show our appreciation to workers, it is essential to remember 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 continue to see people fighting for workers’ rights today. The struggle is not over.
You can learn more about Labor Day by visiting: http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm.
As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions about any issue. Please visit my Senate website at senate.mn/senatorwiger. I also encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home. Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.