On this Labor Day take some time to remember that the reason we have as high a standard of living as we do is because of those who joined together, fought for and won workers’ rights to better wages and working conditions through collective bargaining. Dispelling the long touted myth that each of us has a independent freedom that will get us what each of us is worth in the workplace, unions have demonstrated the reality that those who joined together to negotiate wages and working conditions are directly responsible for what we all have today. It may not seem to be much at times, but it has always been better than the alternative.
A good way to observe Labor Day, while enjoying the BBQ or last picnic of the summer, is to listen to some labor songs. You can get them free from the internet right now. Just go to American Labor Studies Center Website then link and listen to Pete Seeger’s and the Weavers perform Solidarity for Ever on Utube. You can also enjoy such labor songs as Joe Hill, John Henry, Which Side Are You On and one of my favorites No Irish Need Apply, plus others by downloading them and saving to your computer. http://www.labor-studies.org/laborsongs.php . You can also get song lyrics to these and other labor songs well as a lot of other good information about labor history. Listen to Judy Collins sing the classic labor rendition of Bread and Roses at http://music.aol.com/song/bread-and-roses/2988086.
Want to learn more about what labor has done to improve our lives? Check out the Labor Heritage Foundation at www.laborheritage.org . You can find an Inventory of American Labor Landmarks and other interesting information here. Also take a look at the History Channel’s website site about labor history: http://www.history.com/content/laborday/labor-history/labor-day-history.
After the BBQ is over and you want to relax with a good movie, here are some good Labor Day picks that you can see tonight if you are lucky enough to subscribe to Netflix and have high speed internet. Who does not love the Grapes of Wrath? This movie was based on the classic John Steinbeck novel about the poverty during the depression and it demonstrates what life was like for many before the growth of the American labor movement. Norma Rae is a great move that will make everyone proud to be a factory worker. How Green Is My Valley is a classic movie from 1941 about the life of Welch coal miners. F.I.S.T stars Sylvester Stallone in this union drama set in a 1930’s factory. Other movies available with a labor or union theme from Netflix on DVD are: A Day Without Mexican’s, 10,000 Black Men Named George, Fired, Bread and Roses, North Country, The Molly Mcguires, On the Waterfront, Hoffa, Silkwood and Bound for Glory.
So enjoy the rest of Labor Day but don’t forget why we have it so good in the country even in tough economic times.