Labor Day 2017: Fly the flag to honor American labor

September 4, 2017

Small U.S. flag flies at the grave of John Morris, the first worker killed in the battle outside of the Homestead Works Steel Mill in 1892. Photo by Alex Popichak / 90.5 WESA

Small U.S. flag flies at the grave of John Morris, the first worker killed in the battle outside of the Homestead Works Steel Mill in 1892. Photo by Alex Popichak / 90.5 WESA

Fly your U.S. flags today in honor of Labor Day, to honor American labor.

In Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912, flag-waving union organizers are confronted by armed state troops trying to quell union protests. Library of Congress photo.

In Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912, flag-waving union organizers and textile workers confronted by armed state troops trying to quell union protests. Library of Congress photo.

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Top Ten Labor Day songs? What would you add to this list?

September 5, 2016

At Bill Moyers’s site the blog features an historic post from Peter Rothberg, associate editor at The Nation, feature his admittedly-too-exclusive Top Ten Labor Day songs.

It’s a good list, but as he wrote in the introduction, there are many others. In comments, give us your favorites not listed here — with a YouTube link if you have one.

Top Ten Labor Day Songs

1. Pete Seeger, Solidarity Forever

2. Sweet Honey in the Rock, More Than a Paycheck

3. The Clash, Career Opportunities

4. Tennessee Ernie Ford, Sixteen Tons

5. Judy Collins, Bread and Roses

6. Dolly Parton, 9 to 5

7. Woody Guthrie, Union Burying Ground

8. Phil Ochs, The Ballad of Joe Hill

9. Hazel Dickens, Fire in the Hole

10. Gil Scott-Heron, Three Miles Down

Bonus Track #1: The Kinks, Get Back in Line

Bonus Track #2: Paul Robeson, Joe Hill

 


Celebrating Labor Day 2016

September 5, 2016

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, used to be the traditional school-starts-the-next-day in the U.S. Here in Texas, our students have been hitting the books (we hope) for two weeks. Rules require football practice start no earlier than two weeks before the start of school, so if football practice is to start in the first week of August, school has to start by the third week.

Wagging the dog in education, in other words.

Labor Day is the traditional start of the presidential campaign, with voting about 60 days away. In the 21st century, candidates don’t wait for Labor Day any more. Tragic for the nation to lose that tradition, I think.

So there’s nothing left to do but celebrate labor on Labor Day.

Here are some things to think about, on celebrations.

From a National Geographic on-line feature on women working, around the world: Teachable Moment  A school teacher conducts class in Atobiase, Ghana. Women make up more than half of trained primary education teachers in Ghana, according to the World Bank. Photograph by Frans Lanting, National Geographic Creative

From a National Geographic on-line feature on women working, around the world: Teachable Moment A school teacher conducts class in Atobiase, Ghana. Women make up more than half of trained primary education teachers in Ghana, according to the World Bank. Photograph by Frans Lanting, National Geographic Creative

You can’t have a labor movement without music. What do you have around the house? Woody Guthrie? Pete Seeger? Leadbelly? Play it!

Music of labor weaves its way into history. “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” “Erie Canal,” barge-pulling rhythms with seeming-nonsense lyrics.  We also remember those who worked and died to advance labor, and those still dying from work-related injuries and disease.

Labor Day cards? AFL-CIO has a series of cards you can send to people who work, to thank them. Send the cards on-line, e-mail, or print them out and mail them.

Sample Labor Day Thank-you card from AFL-CIO, "That barbecue didn't make itself."

Sample Labor Day Thank-you card from AFL-CIO, “That barbecue didn’t make itself.” Find more cards at http://www.aflcio.org/thankyou


Remember to fly your flag for Labor Day 2016, September 5

September 5, 2016

Still important in 2016: Fly your flag for American labor, Monday.

Especially important in 2016. It’s a presidential election year. Wave the flag! Labor Day is the “traditional” start of the campaign for the presidency. In your town, most likely, there is a picnic sponsored by a union or other pro-labor group, at which you would be welcomed and can meet many of the candidates in your local races. Go!

Free Labor Will Win, poster from 1942, (Library of Congress)

Poster from the Office of War Information, 1942

Put your flag out at sunrise, take it down at sunset. (Okay, you may fly your flag all weekend — especially if you’re a union member.  We get the whole weekend, but Labor Day itself is Monday.)

Labor Day 2016 in the United States is a federal holiday, and one of those days Americans are urged to fly the U.S. flag.

“Free Labor Will Win,” the poster said, encouraging a theme important during World War II, when unions were encouraged to avoid strikes or any action that might interrupt work to build the “arsenal of democracy” believed necessary to win the war.  Labor complied, the war was won, and organized labor was the stronger for it. In 2015, some have difficulty remembering when all Americans knew that our future rides on the backs of organized labor.

In war, America turned to organized labor to get the jobs done. Not only do we owe a debt to labor that deserves remembering, we have many jobs that need to be done now, for which organized labor is the best group to turn to.

The poster was issued by the Office of War Information in 1942, in full color. A black-and-white version at the Library of Congress provides a few details for the time:

Labor Day poster. Labor Day poster distributed to war plants and labor organizations. The original is twenty-eight and one-half inches by forty inches and is printed in full color. It was designed by the Office of War Information (OWI) from a photograph especially arranged by Anton Bruehl, well-known photographer. Copies may be obtained by writing the Distribution Section, Office of War Information [alas, you can’t get a copy from the Office of War Information in 2012]

Even down here in deepest, darkest-right-to-work Texas, patriots fly their flags to honor Labor today. It’s heartening.

Flags fly all around in 1882 at the first Labor Day Parade in New York City’s Union Square; lithograph from USC’s Dornsife History Center, via Wikipedia, artist unidentified

What’s the history of labor in your family?

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This is an encore post.

This is an encore post, a Labor Day tradition.

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Remember to fly your flag for Labor Day 2015, September 7

September 7, 2015

Still important in 2015: Fly your flag for American labor, Monday.

Free Labor Will Win, poster from 1942, (Library of Congress)

Poster from the Office of War Information, 1942

(Okay, you may fly your flag all weekend — especially if you’re a union member.  We get the whole weekend, but Labor Day itself is Monday.)

Labor Day 2015 in the United States is a federal holiday, and one of those days Americans are urged to fly the U.S. flag.

“Free Labor Will Win,” the poster said, encouraging a theme important during World War II, when unions were encouraged to avoid strikes or any action that might interrupt work to build the “arsenal of democracy” believed necessary to win the war.  Labor complied, the war was won, and organized labor was the stronger for it. In 2015, some have difficulty remembering when all Americans knew that our future rides on the backs of organized labor.

In war, America turned to organized labor to get the jobs done. Not only do we owe a debt to labor that deserves remembering, we have many jobs that need to be done now, for which organized labor is the best group to turn to.

The poster was issued by the Office of War Information in 1942, in full color. A black-and-white version at the Library of Congress provides a few details for the time:

Labor Day poster. Labor Day poster distributed to war plants and labor organizations. The original is twenty-eight and one-half inches by forty inches and is printed in full color. It was designed by the Office of War Information (OWI) from a photograph especially arranged by Anton Bruehl, well-known photographer. Copies may be obtained by writing the Distribution Section, Office of War Information [alas, you can’t get a copy from the Office of War Information in 2012]

Even down here in deepest, darkest-right-to-work Texas, patriots fly their flags to honor Labor today. It’s heartening.

Flags fly all around in 1882 at the first Labor Day Parade in New York City’s Union Square; lithograph from USC’s Dornsife History Center, via Wikipedia, artist unidentified

This is partly an encore post, a Labor Day tradition.

More, Other Resources:

This is an encore post.

This is an encore post, a Labor Day tradition.


Fly your flag for Labor Day 2014

September 1, 2014

Remember to fly your flag today for Labor Day, to honor all laborers, and especially those in the union movement to whom we owe gratitude for the concepts and reality of safe work places, good pay, benefits (including health benefits), and vacations.

Members of the Silver Platers and Metal Polishers Union carry a large flag in Rochester’s (New York) 1918 Labor Day Parade. A poster depicting Uncle Sam can be seen to the rear of the marchers. Albert R. Stone Photo Collection, Monroe County Library System

Members of the Silver Platers and Metal Polishers Union carry a large flag in Rochester’s (New York) 1918 Labor Day Parade. A poster depicting Uncle Sam can be seen to the rear of the marchers. Photograph by Albert R. Stone, Albert R. Stone Photo Collection, Monroe County Library System

2014 notes the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow, Colorado Massacre.  Labor Day should give us all pause to consider those who lost their lives campaigning for good wages, for decent working hours, for good and safe working conditions, and for the right of workers to negotiate collectively the companies who employ them for these things.

Have a good Labor Day.  Celebrate with family and coworkers.  Kick off the 2014 elections.

And remember.

Monument in Haymarket Square, Chicago, noting the 1886 Haymarket Riot and the workers who died or were murdered later.

Monument in Haymarket Square, Chicago, noting the 1886 Haymarket Riot and the workers who died or were murdered later. Photo by TRiver on flickr, Creative Commons license, via AtlasObscura.

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Remember to fly your flag for Labor Day 2014, September 1

August 30, 2014

Still important in 2014: Fly your flag for American labor, Monday.

Free Labor Will Win, poster from 1942, (Library of Congress)

Poster from the Office of War Information, 1942

(Okay, you may fly your flag all weekend — especially if you’re a union member.  We get the whole weekend, but Labor Day itself is Monday.)

Labor Day 2014 in the United States is a federal holiday, and one of those days Americans are urged to fly the U.S. flag.

“Free Labor Will Win,” the poster said, encouraging a theme important during World War II, when unions were encouraged to avoid strikes or any action that might interrupt work to build the “arsenal of democracy” believed necessary to win the war.  Labor complied, the war was won, and organized labor was the stronger for it. In 2012, some have difficulty remembering when all Americans knew that our future rides on the backs of organized labor.

The poster was issued by the Office of War Information in 1942, in full color. A black-and-white version at the Library of Congress provides a few details for the time:

Labor Day poster. Labor Day poster distributed to war plants and labor organizations. The original is twenty-eight and one-half inches by forty inches and is printed in full color. It was designed by the Office of War Information (OWI) from a photograph especially arranged by Anton Bruehl, well-known photographer. Copies may be obtained by writing the Distribution Section, Office of War Information [alas, you can’t get a copy from the Office of War Information in 2012]

Even down here in deepest, darkest-right-to-work Texas, patriots fly their flags to honor Labor today. It’s heartening.

Flags fly all around in 1882 at the first Labor Day Parade in New York City’s Union Square; lithograph from USC’s Dornsife History Center, via Wikipedia, artist unidentified

This is partly an encore post, a Labor Day tradition.

More, Other Resources:

This is an encore post.

This is an encore post, a Labor Day tradition.


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