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Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day! A Tribute to My Father.


My Dad was a veteran and a union man.    

Happy Labor Day!  from Cognitive Dissonance 

(Updated for Labor Day 2013, September 2, 2013)
He wasn't an activist; he wasn't a union steward; he just worked in a union shop for about 35 years. 

He was bright but not educated; he never finished high school, but he was awarded a number of patents over the years.  He was a self-taught man.  In these days of degrees and advanced degrees, someone like my dad would go nowhere.  The garage and his workshop in the basement were filled with every kind of tool imaginable, pieces of wood, metal, odds and ends that he picked up.  He could fix anything, and, for a while when we were really little, he fixed cars out of the garage and also did some electrical work for pay.  After he got his union job, however, he did less of that, content to keep our home, our grandmother's home, and the apartment buildings that my parents owned in good repair.  

He never went on strike, but he was concerned about it a few times; there was always a settlement before the strike date came.  The company he worked for changed owners, was bought out, was sold again, but eventually it became part of what is now Verizon.  




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And, remember, unions wouldn't be necessary if companies paid their employees reasonably, treated them like human beings, and insisted on decent working conditions.. and didn't insist on paying CEO's millions because they are so "worth it".  "Class warfare" didn't start with the workers.


...And that's what Labor Day has transformed into: Not about the history of labor, respect for union or an opportunity to affirm our commitment to fundamental worker rights, just a chance for some family-friendly fun.
That family-friendly fun, by the way, is made possible by child labor laws, weekends and minimum wage - all progress that was championed by labor unions. But you won't hear about that on Monday, politicians will be too busy discussing how to get government out of the way of Big Business and regular Americans will be too preoccupied worrying about their economic future.

Thanks, Justin Krebs!

For Labor Day 2013, Paul Krugman talks about the loss of respect for the working man, particularly among the Republican right-wing:

No, what’s unimaginable now is that Congress would unanimously offer even an empty gesture of support for workers’ dignity. For the fact is that many of today’s politicians can’t even bring themselves to fake respect for ordinary working Americans. 
Consider, for example, how Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, marked Labor Day last year: with a Twitter post declaring “Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success.” Yep, he saw Labor Day as an occasion to honor business owners.

But, while we contemplate the state of the American worker, we can appreciate Labor Day.

And to all workers everywhere, whether labor or management, whether union or self-employed:


 Have a good day and remember the middle class life that we all took for granted.  It's still not too late to save it!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks a lot for posting this, Molly. It reminds me so much of my "Union Guy" Father. He was also a self-taught man who left school in sixth grade to help feed his family in the Depression. He never went back to school but could sit down with any how-to book and figure out electronics, plumbing, auto repair, carpentry, whatever was needed. Like many of his Union co-workers, he was a WWII vet, a family man & a churchgoer. To hear people call Unions "thugs" after growing up with good people like these seems like blasphemy to me, and I salute you and anyone like you for trying to put the record straight.

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