Labour Day is celebrated on 1 May in Spain. This New York Times video is a good reminder of the long way workers still have to go to defend their rights and make a decent salary.
Working this hard makes me feel depleted. I leave the house at 6:20 a.m. and I won't get back here till 11:30 p.m. I make $7.50 an hour at both jobs.
You've got a certain group of people that's working as hard as they can everyday and still can't manage to make ends meet, because they can't get a decent wage.
There's a convention going on in Atlanta with fast-food workers that are fighting for a higher paying wage.
Are you serious, sir?
We need to be down there then.
The way that I get paid, I live my life in debt. A bill for daycare saying that my co-pay is $90 a month, which I don't have at all. Sometimes the constant bustle of my schedule and what I'm doing, it becomes too much. My schedule, and my voucher. I feel so uninspired to do anything else that's of meaning, because I don't even get to reap the benefits of my own hard work.
This one. I want this one.
I don't get to teach my daughter anything. I wasn't even the person who taught her how to tie her shoes.
Look, don't you think you would like that one?
I'm missing her growing up because I've got to make ways for us to survive.
Yeah, this is the newsletter that we have.
Sometimes I do feel like giving up. Just bump it, I'll accept whatever the government gives me, but that's not me. So I get through that and I keep moving. I'm looking forward to going to this convention because I want to get with people who are living the same struggle, so I don't feel as alone.
If your last name begins with A through L sign in on this side. If it begins with M through Z, sign in on this side.
What's crazy is people may not realize Show Me 15 and the Black Lives Matter movement is one. We are one. We are together.
Something is not right here. It's too many of us struggling. It's too many of us not having it.
Get a sign.
I do feel like the Fight for 15 and the Black Lives Matter movement is connected. Most of the people who are fighting for 15, they look like me.
We fight for $15 an hour check.
Childcare, and housing, and food are the basic needs of life, but they're issues for all the people I work with.
I feel great. I feel amped. I feel like a happy high.
What this is is people fighting for their humanity, their humanness. That's not a feeling that's afforded to all, and that security in being a valued part of society is something that everyone deserves.
We can't take it no more
There's a point where we say no more.
We can't take it no more.
And I think that that point of breaking is the most human point anyone could ever have.
We can't take it no more. We can't take it no more.
You can also watch this video on Labour Day in US which we published on the blog some time ago. You will find the accompanying activity by clicking on their link.
The Industrial Revolution modernized the United States and Canada during the 19th century. As people enjoyed steady employment, they compromised their rights in the work place. Longer work hours and pay cuts were imposed. US labour groups began protecting themselves by unionising. In Canada unions were illegal until 1872 when thousands of autolabourers marched to Prime Minister John McDonalds’ home. That year Canada wiped the entire Union Law from its books, and the march became an annual Canadian tradition.
In 1882 Toronto labour officials invited an American union leader Peter G. McGuire to Toronto’s Labour celebrations. McGuire was so impressed that he suggested a workers parade in New York City Central Labour Union. He chose September 5th as the date because it filled a long void between July 4th and Thanksgiving. Coincidentally, that same year a machinist from Patternson New Jersey, Matthew McGuire also proposed a labourers celebration. On Tuesday September 5th 1882 thousands of New York City labourers marched from City Hall to Union Square. They gathered in Reservoir Park for an afternoon of picnics, concerts and speeches, rallying for an eight-hour work day.
Two years later the Central Labour Union moved the parade to the first Monday in September. They also encouraged all US cities to follow New York’s lead and marched for the working men’s holiday. For many the choice was to either spend the day at work or march without pay. That began to change when Oregon became the first state to legalise the Labour Day holiday in 1887. Other states, including New York, soon followed.
It took a political disaster to put Labour Day on the national calendar. In 1894 railway workers in Pullman, Illinois, went on strike to protest wage cuts. President Grover Cleveland faced pressure to end the demonstrations and sent 12,000 federal troops to break the strike. Violence erupted. Two strikers were killed and Cleveland’s harsh methods made headlines. In an attempt to appease the nation’s workers he signed a bill to make Labour Day a federal holiday. Cleveland still lost that year’s election.
American workers continued to gain power through the 1950’s when over a third of all labour forces were unionized. Labour Day had become a time to rally workers for safer conditions, fair pay and benefits. But in the second half of the 20th century the US labour force diminished, many factories closed, jobs were outsourced to other countries.
Today, workers still parade through blue-coloured neighborhoods on Labour Day and speeches unite the ever dwindling labour force. But the day’s true call has quietened. For now most Americans leisurely enjoy the holiday as summer’s last bow.