Labor Day

Labor Day was established in 1894 by President Grover Cleveland as a concession to the labor movement after he used Federal troops to end a strike by railroad workers which resulted in 30 deaths and $80 million in property damage.

My dad, a tool and dye maker, was against unions. He ran a just shop and later worked for one. His workers could live on their wages and there was a respect for their work and their opinions. They didn’t need a union. But Dad’s situation was unique. Whenever people who are willing to work for a living are deprived of a living wage and benefits or when their work places are so neglected as to result in unsafe conditions for the workers, they should have the right to unite with their fellow-workers in order to exert pressure on employers for change.

I am proud that my dad was a just man. He was right in his opinion considering his situation. But, while his workers may not have needed a union in their situation, the unions could have used their voices…even to speak to the fact that shops can be fair and just and still flourish.