“Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country,” said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. “All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man’s prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day…is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation.”
The History of Labor Day, U.S. Department of Labor
What happened? Some say it started in the early 80s after Ronald Reagan fired the nation’s air-traffic controllers for striking — something they had no legal right to do — and thereby legitimized a wave of corporate union busting. Others blame it on a more pervasive “greed is good” aggressiveness that engulfed corporate suites starting right about then.
There’s no question that, ever since, and with ever greater alacrity, companies have fired workers for trying to form unions, even though that’s illegal, and have used or threatened to use permanent replacements if workers go on strike — which is legal but was rare before the 80s.
Robert B. Reich | August 31, 2007
What Happened to Labor Day?
Just in time for the holiday, two liberal groups – United for a Fair Economy and the Institute for Policy Studies – have issued a gleefully malicious new attack on our CEO class. They point out that the CEOs of large companies earn an average of $10.8 million a year, which is 362 times as much as the average American worker, and retire with $10.1 million in their special exclusive CEO pension funds. They further point out that the compensation of US CEOs wildly exceeds that of their European counterparts, who, we are invited to believe, work equally hard.
Barbara Ehrenreich, August 30, 2007
“It’s Not Easy Being Ultra-Rich”
The UFE and IPS report can be found here.