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Labor Day Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

7 September 2015

We hasten to report that we won't be on duty today. We have a few fascinating items lined up for later this week. But today is a holiday.

And a special holiday it is. As the Department of Labor puts it:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.

The labor movement has always been a hot political topic. Who gets what being the general focus of politics, that should be no surprise. But it would be nice to put that aside one day a year to simply express appreciation for the American worker.

Which is what we, an American worker, plan to do today.

We've all profited from the work each of us does for each other.

We started by sitting on the patio before the sun warmed it up. It was cool as a mountain retreat. We were sitting so still, reading The Threepenny Review with a cup of coffee, that a squirrel scrambled right up to our chair before it realized what it had done and scrambled right back up the fence.

A blue jay flew in with a whole peanut in its beak, bouncing it on the hard ground. We thought it was trying to break it open. But we may have been mistaken.

It found a soft spot under our lemon tree and buried it. And when a fellow jay circled in to take a look, the first one chased the second off.

In the end neither of them got the peanut. And the squirrel, too, went somewhere else for breakfast.

As far as we've come in marking a fairer field for labor, the game is still full of abuses.

  • We know too many people who haven't had a raise in years as they watch their income fall farther and farther behind the cost of living.
  • And we know too many people who have had to sign on as "independent contractors" but are treated as employees with none of the benefits.
  • And then there's the commonplace of "salaried" jobs that are salaried simply to avoid the overtime, always excessive, the workers are expected to devote to it.

They're like that squirrel and those blue jays. But they deserve better. We've all profited from the work each of us does for each other.

We put down our coffee and let our mind wander back to our college days when our political science professor Raghavan Iyer recited the last lines from the poem Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote to encourage his fellow Englishmen after the Manchester Massacre in which between 10 and 20 people were killed and hundreds more injured in a peaceful protest:

'Rise like Lions after slumber
In un-vanquishable number --
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you --
Ye are many -- they are few.'

It's well to remember people are neither squirrels nor blue jays. They are like lions who, rising from slumber, roar for nothing but what is their due.

We salute them today. And count ourselves among them.

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