Labor Day - a time to reflect on the past and look towards the future 08/31/2014

Most people know that the origins of Labor Day can be traced back to the late 19th century when workers and their unions were fighting for fair wages and better working conditions. But not too many are aware that one of the first official holidays to honor American workers was born right here in the Council 93 region.  A 127 years ago, in 1887, Massachusetts joined four other states in passing legislation that set aside a day to honor and reflect on workers' struggles and the sacrifices they made to build our country into the greatest in the world.

As is the case with many things, New England was far ahead of most of the nation. Over the next seven years, many other states would follow our lead. On June 28, 1894, Congress declared that the first Monday in September would forever after be the federal holiday known as Labor Day.

Like other holidays, Labor Day means different things to different people.  Unfortunately, for many people, it seems as though Labor Day is nothing more than a long weekend marking the end of backyard barbecues, days at the beach and school vacation. But for those of us in the labor movement, it will always mean much more.  For us, it is a solemn day.  It is a day to remember and honor the great labor leaders and activists who came before us. It is a day to celebrate and appreciate the men and women who shed their sweat and blood to secure the benefits, rights and working conditions that have enabled so many of us to provide for ourselves and our families without spending all of our waking hours on the job.  

As we reflect on the hard work of those who came before us, let us also use their selfless efforts as motivation to protect and grow our union. We have come a long way since the first Labor Day was celebrated. But those of us in the labor movement know that the struggle never ends.  We must stand strong and fight against those who are working to strip us of our hard-earned rights and benefits and we must continue working to bring the benefits of union membership to more individuals and families.  We owe this effort not only to those who came before us, but also to those who will follow us for generations to come.