Labor Day Reading

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If you don’t have to labor on Labor Day, you probably should thank labor unions.

Right-wingers in America today (which as a rule means Republicans) love to bash labor unions (or “union thugs,” to use their favorite term) and blame them for everything from the collapse of the housing market to the national debt to athlete’s foot.

Demonizing unions – and those who belong to them – is clever politics in two ways: It discredits politicians (mostly Democrats) who are supported by unions, and it pits union workers against non-union workers (the old divide-and-conquer game).

Unfortunately, many people have forgotten – or never knew – what life was like for most working people in America before the labor movement got started. Laurence Lewis, writing on the Daily Kos site, reminds us of some of the good things labor unions were responsible for – and that too many of us now take for granted:

“Those who fought and died to create the labor movement helped end child labor and legal employment discrimination, and they helped create the 40-hour work week, paid overtime, workplace safety, workers’ comp, unemployment protections, pensions, guaranteed health insurance, sick leave and guaranteed vacations.”

It’s a great piece, and it’s less than 400 words long. Take five minutes out of your Labor Day fun to read it.


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