On This Labor Day

 

Here are two items related to Labor Day that I thought might be of interest.

The first article is from Diane Ravitch’s blog and titled “Labor Day 2014.” Here is the opening of that post:

“I recently saw photographs of John F. Kennedy giving a Labor Day speech in New York City during his Presidential campaign in 1960. He spoke in the center of the Garment District, on the west side of Manhattan. He spoke to tens of thousands of garment workers. Today, the Garment District has been replaced by luxury high-rise residences. Following NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), the garment industry went to low-wage, non-union countries. The garment industry has few workers and no political power. The number of union members across the nation has dropped precipitously. The largest unions are public sector workers–especially, teachers–and they are under attack, as rightwing foundations, billionaires, and their favorite think tanks hammer away at their very existence.

“What hope is there? Anthony Cody says there is plenty. He foresees the rise of ‘the teacher class.’”

To read the full article, click here.

 

The second item is from Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez:

“Hi, everyone –

“This Labor Day, I’m thinking about Austraberta.

“I had breakfast at Austraberta Rodriguez’s home in Houston two weeks ago. She’s worked as a janitor for more than 30 years, and for most of that time, her wages put her below the poverty level. Every cent she’s earned has gone toward providing the basics for her children and grandchildren. Today, she’s still earning the minimum wage–which, in Texas, is just $7.25 an hour.

“Austraberta told me over breakfast that a national minimum wage increase would mean more bread for her family. She said a few more dollars an hour would be “incredible.” That raise wouldn’t just go toward making Austraberta’s life a little better. It would improve the odds for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren too.

“Austraberta’s struggle is our struggle. On Labor Day, we celebrate all workers nationwide who contribute to our strength and prosperity. Because whether you made the burger or someone served it to you, whether you’re driving the bus or riding on it, whether you’re sweeping the floor or working in the clean office, you have a part to pla​y.

“So today, if you’re ready for a country that does right by Austraberta and the nearly 28 million Americans who stand to benefit from a $10.10 minimum wage, then honor them by adding your name here.

“A higher minimum wage doesn’t just help workers like Austraberta. It helps the businesses they work for too. It improves employee morale, productivity, and customer service. It reduces turnover, absenteeism, and training costs.

“And besides, when working families have more money in their pockets, they pump it right back into their local economies. They spend it on goods and services where they live. And that helps the businesses providing those goods and services to grow. And that creates more jobs.

“But it all starts with making good on that basic bargain: If you work hard and play by the rules, you shouldn’t have to raise your family in poverty.

“The President is doing his part, with an Executive Order that would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 for private-sector workers on federal contracts.

“You can do your part, too — and there’s no action too small to show your support for folks like Austraberta. Folks like LeDaya. Like Holley. Like Aaron.

“Today, more than a century after its inception, we still haven’t identified the true “founder” of Labor Day, and maybe that’s fitting. Because today isn’t about one person. It’s about every American who’s working hard to get ahead–and it’s about the progress we can make when we work together.

You can do that right now by standing up and saying you’re ready to reward hard work with a fair wage for everyone.

“Happy Labor Day. Let’s continue standing with our workers not just on the first Monday in September, but every day of the year.”

 

3 thoughts on “On This Labor Day

  1. It it too bad that on labor day the only thing the Secretary of Labor can talk about is the minimum wage. Don’t get me wrong, we need to raise the minimum wage. But he certainly could have mentioned the need for higher rates of unionization. Higher rates of unionization would do more to raise wages for all workers than raising the minimum wage. The fact that there is no mention of unions, and that the Obama administration did nothing to fight against SB 5 in Ohio, nothing to stop right-to-work in Michigan and that the President’s Secretary of Education regularly villainizes teacher’s unions speaks volumes about where the current administration stands when it comes to working people.

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