Monday, September 3, 2007

A Brief History of Labor Day

The origins of Labor Day are more than a century old.

The first Labor Day parade in New York City was held in September 1982. Two men are credited with playing an important role not only in bringing about the parade but the holiday as well. Matthew Maguire, a machinist from Paterson, N.J., and Peter J. McGuire, a New York City carpenter who helped found the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, are said to have suggested a holiday to honor working people in the United States. In 1887, Oregon became the first state to make Labor Day a legal holiday, and in 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a bill making Labor Day a national holiday.

How unions help all workers

by Lawrence Mishel and Matthew Walters

Unions have a substantial impact on the compensation and work lives of both unionized and non-unionized workers. This report presents current data on unions' effect on wages, fringe benefits, total compensation, pay inequality, and workplace protections.

Some of the conclusions are:

• Unions raise wages of unionized workers by roughly 20% and raise compensation, including both wages and benefits, by about 28%.

• Unions reduce wage inequality because they raise wages more for low- and middle-wage workers than for higher-wage workers, more for blue-collar than for white-collar workers, and more for workers who do not have a college degree.

• Strong unions set a pay standard that nonunion employers follow. For example, a high school graduate whose workplace is not unionized but whose industry is 25% unionized is paid 5% more than similar workers in less unionized industries.

• The impact of unions on total nonunion wages is almost as large as the impact on total union wages.

• The most sweeping advantage for unionized workers is in fringe benefits. Unionized workers are more likely than their nonunionized counterparts to receive paid leave, are approximately 18% to 28% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and are 23% to 54% more likely to be in employer-provided pension plans.

• Unionized workers receive more generous health benefits than nonunionized workers. They also pay 18% lower health care deductibles and a smaller share of the costs for family coverage. In retirement, unionized workers are 24% more likely to be covered by health insurance paid for by their employer.

• Unionized workers receive better pension plans. Not only are they more likely to have a guaranteed benefit in retirement, their employers contribute 28% more toward pensions.

• Unionized workers receive 26% more vacation time and 14% more total paid leave (vacations and holidays).

Unions play a pivotal role both in securing legislated labor protections and rights such as safety and health, overtime, and family/medical leave and in enforcing those rights on the job. Because unionized workers are more informed, they are more likely to benefit from social insurance programs such as unemployment insurance and workers compensation. Unions are thus an intermediary institution that provides a necessary complement to legislated benefits and protections.


Anonymous said...

I want to thank Matthew Maguire, for introducing a holiday so that we can spend our last summer weekend with our families; having a great BBQ with family and friends, but for me was going to Laughlin Nevada and appreciating my family.
I really appreciate my family on this labor weekend, because I got to see my daughters more and realize how fast they have grown on me, my daughters are always going to school and working, and one of my daughters, who I admired for also being a great mother of two wonderful grandchildren, my daughter Joanna strives to better herself in life, and shows that she is not a quitter for being a single parent, and Joanna said to me this weekend that labor day was one of her favorite holidays, because we as a family would bond together more and appreciate each other, and realize that work can keep us apart.
Now I also have a son name Joseph, who is going to be a sophomore high school student on September 2007, and spend time and appreciate him on this labor weekend, I gave Joseph a chance to drive and navigate the boat around Laughlin River, and was a great driver on the River, showing great length of safety and courtesy to others.
Joseph is a big fan of James R.Hoffa, saw the movie with Jack Nicholson, and read the book of Hoffa, the real story, Joseph said no matter what Robert Kennedy said about Jimmy; Jimmy was a great leader for the working man and took care of the working class.
Joseph also admired James P.Hoffa, who he says is a true leader for the working people, just like his father, and hopes to someday meet him, and Joseph also always gives his gratitude to Patrick D.Kelly of local 952, who looks at him as his mentor.
My wife Alba, believe unions are good for the working class, she said that without union her father and mother wouldn’t have medical benefits and a great pension, from the carpenters unions, she also thanks the unions for this wonderful holiday, Labor Day, because she also remembers those happy weekends spending with her family, and also alba is a management for her company.
So I hope from me Joe Nuno, says that everybody out there had a happy Labor weekend and a safe weekend.

Anonymous said...

Q: What international holiday is Labor Day’s closet relative?
A: May Day. In 1889, a workers’ congress in Paris voted to support the U.S. labor movement’s demand for an eight-hour workday. It chose May 1, 1890, as a day of demonstrations in favor of the eight-hour day. Afterward, May 1 became a holiday called Labor Day in many nations. It resembles the September holiday in the United States.

Anonymous said...

yesterday labor day

Today, the term "labor" can be applied to strong professional unions, the national holiday, and even academic departments in colleges and universities. The modern American labor movement has grown from its roots in the colonial craft guilds to national professional associations with membership numbering millions. For many, Labor Day may simply signal the end of the summer months. But for the American workforce, the holiday remembers those who have labored for our country since its founding.

Anonymous said...

Labor unions are the negotiators and watchdogs for the American workforce. A means of collectively bargaining with employers for fair wages and decent working conditions, labor unions are organized into two types: craft unions (skilled laborers) and industrial unions (laborers in the same industry, regardless of skill).

Anonymous said...

2007 Labor Day Message
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Labor Day is our holiday. It is a time to stop and reflect on the many contributions of North America’s workers, to celebrate our accomplishments and to honor those who struggled before us.

This Labor Day, we are at an important crossroads. We have endured much and persevered through some of the toughest times in our union’s history. Now, we have the opportunity to turn those tough times into a better future for our members.

It is appropriate that we just concluded our National Staff Conference on the eve of Labor Day. IAM representatives from all over North America met to consider what we must do to ensure our union stays strong for years to come.

An important part of securing our common future is making sure the people who govern our nations are on the side of working people. We took an historic step toward that end this week at our National Staff Conference. We endorsed two U.S. presidential primary candidates, Hillary Clinton from the Democratic party and Mike Huckabee from the Republican party . We made this decision after four candidates, three Democrats and one Republican, agreed to appear at the Staff Conference and explain their vision for working people in America.

We made this historic dual endorsement after careful consideration of the candidates’ appearances, and extensive polling of our members. And, we endorsed a candidate from both parties because in the struggle ahead to fight for our members and their families we must all be united by our common bond as union members.

No matter what party, no matter what religion, no matter what ethnic background, we all want the same things: a secure job; health care when a loved one gets sick; a good education for our kids; a secure retirement and dignity on the job.

So, as we gather over this holiday weekend to celebrate Labor Day, let us focus not on our differences, but on the common bonds that unite us as union members. For as Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” And this Labor Day we must begin a journey that will unite all of us to make sure the Labor Movement grows and millions more workers in North America can live better as union members.

Finally, let us remember and wish a safe return to the working men and women who have volunteered to serve in the armed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.

Best wishes for a safe and happy Labor Day,

R. Thomas Buffenbarger
International President

Anonymous said...

Labor Day, which was created to honor the working class, has been a national holiday in America for over 100 years. It is celebrated on the first Monday in September. In 1882, the first celebration was held by the Central Labor Union in New York City. It soon became a tradition in states across America, and in 1894, the U.S. Congress made the day a national holiday.

The original Labor Day holiday came complete with an annual parade and picnic, during which union members would walk through the streets carrying a banner with the seal or symbol of their union. The local members would often wear their work clothes and carry the tools of their trade. Parade floats would depict union members at work. “What they were doing was celebrating. They were celebrating the fact that they had a union and they were taking pride in their craft as skilled workers,” says Robert Cherny, a history professor at San Francisco State University.

Labor Day is also officially recognized in Canada. The provinces of Ottawa and Toronto held the first parades to honor workers in 1872, and Parliament, like the U.S. Congress, officially recognized the day as a holiday in 1894. A similar celebration is held in other countries but it is celebrated on May Day. “May 1 has come to be a socialist holiday, but both days started in the United States,” Cherny says.

Today, Americans see Labor Day largely as the last long weekend of the summer season. Indeed, most modern celebrations of Labor Day do not resemble the historical day as it started, says Cherny. “Labor Day has become a more generalized holiday,” he says. “Some see it as a day off of work and a chance to go shopping, rather than a celebration of labor unions.”

While Labor Day parades are very rare now because of the decline of unions, the Labor Day picnic still occurs in some cities. These picnics often have singing, political speeches and family activities. “What has survived around the country is the picnic, representing some continuation from an earlier period,” says Cherny. Thus, many people have informal, non-political picnics or cookouts on Labor Day, as well.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR honors its roots. Exhibits part of Labor Day festivities ... admission free with a union card (non-union members are to pay an entry fee). ...
As part of activities marking the 70th anniversary of the Sit-Down Strike in Flint, three NASCAR-related exhibits with UAW sponsorship are in Flint for the public to see today and Sunday.

The free exhibits, which arrived in three semitrailers Friday morning, are among numerous activities taking place Labor Day weekend in the Flint Cultural Center and other areas. The activities are sponsored by UAW Region 1-C and the Flint Cultural Center under the theme "Ordinary People Changing the World."

The NASCAR exhibits include hands-on racing simulators, a miniature racing track and show cars of NASCAR drivers Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Elliott Sadler. Also on display are the red, white and blue Corvette pace car that led the 2006 Indianapolis 500, a Ford F-150 pace truck and a Shelby GT500 pace car.

The exhibits, in the parking lot next to the Sloan Museum in the Cultural Center, are open 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

"We're up here showing our solidarity," said Gary Alred, team leader of the UAW-Dodge Motorsports exhibit.

Alred said people coming to the exhibit will not only learn about NASCAR and the UAW, they'll be a part of history. He explained that this is the first time the UAW-Dodge, UAW-GM and UAW-Ford car racing exhibits have all been on display in the same location at a non-racing event.

"That's very unusual," Alred said. "It's the first time for us (UAW-Dodge) to do any kind of event in Flint."

The display in Flint was coordinated by Duane Zuckschwerdt, director of UAW Region 1-C, which is based in Flint.