Monday, September 7, 2015

happy labor day! where did it come from? where has it gone?

Today is the first Monday in September, which is celebrated as Labor Day in the U.S. and Canada. Watch this video (part of the TED-Ed series) and read this brief article by Carter for an overview of its origins. While the holiday arose over a century ago at a time of rising union militancy in reaction to labor exploitation and government repression, Carter's closing remarks seem most appropriate:
These snapshots from Chicago’s first Labor Day suggest a crucial difference between the Gilded Age of the late-nineteenth century and the one we find ourselves in today. Even as contemporary disparities between rich and poor approach historic proportions, Americans today are not nearly as engaged in the kinds of freewheeling debates over the morality of capitalism that consumed many of those who lived through industrialization’s peak decades. In their world, devastating recessions elicited fundamental questions about the shape of the nation’s economic life. In their world, concerns about the experiences of the workers and the fate of the working classes saturated public conversation. It is a world removed from our own and yet one that – on Labor Day, no less – is well worth revisiting. 

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