Posts Tagged ‘laborers’

Labor Day in the US, Celebrating Workers

September 5, 2016

Today is a national holiday in the US. Called Labor Day, it was designed to celebrate the people who formed the backbone of our manufacturing power, yet who were otherwise ignored and put down.

The job market has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. Manufacturing jobs are still little celebrated but much better jobs than they were. People working retail and at many clerical-type jobs are the ones today who have a tough time. Working hours organized to keep them at part-time status so that the company can avoid paying for benefits such as health care (which has become so expensive that many companies would go out of business paying for it). Feeling like just part of a vast machinery in huge companies is the state of many.

Part of my reading in my master’s degree work was labor–partly philosophy about how people became “alienated” from the fruits of their labor, and partly the politics of the labor movement from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s.

The idea of alienation came from the rise of “capitalists”–those people with sufficient money (capital) to build manufacturing plants and organize the production of goods. Prior to that, products were designed and produced by crafts people working usually alone. Think of the village blacksmith. People went from building products where they felt it was a little piece of them to just a cog in a machine.

Today, many people still fee that way.

However, today often it is more attitude than slavery to capitalists. Adam Grant writing in “The Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World,” (I’ve just begun the book, but the first few chapters are interesting) looks at how some people bend certain rules or find unique ways of approaching their work and find much more satisfaction.

As in so many things, it is our attitude and approach to work that determines the satisfaction and performance.

So, today we celebrate those who do so much for us and yet remain often unsung and anonymous.


Labor Day Weekend

September 4, 2015

“14 From the fruit of the mouth one is filled with good things,and manual labor has its reward.” — Proverbs 12:14

Today kicks off Labor Day weekend in the US. It’s the traditional end of summer and beginning of fall. Although around here students have been back in school for almost two weeks.

It’s the last of the “summer fun” days. Boating, camping, and other recreational pursuits.

We very little recognize the labor movement to which this day owes its name. I’m always amazed at how the labor movement–the quest for justice for laboring people from their masters–began with violence, came to some power, then fizzled all in less than a century.

Many gains were made for justice, though. Company owners mostly cannot treat their workers like slaves. That was the case in many industrial and mining areas at the beginning of the 20th Century.

The laws of supply and demand, the workers own political preference for politicians on social issues over economic issues, and maybe even technology weakened the movement.

I know too many “social Darwinists” who look down on working people as sub-human species. As the Proverb says, manual labor has its reward. I have no less respect for the person who makes my car, fixes my plumbing, or builds a house than I do for high-flying  wealthy sales people or corporate managers. In fact, I often find higher ethics among the former than the latter.

When we as humans learn to treat everyone with respect regardless of their talents or economic position, we will begin to adopt the lifestyle that Jesus preached. Justice over power. Respect for God’s creatures.

Go out and enjoy the weekend–even if you don’t live here.