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Happy Labor Day: We Still Have Work To Do

image from Kissing Fish

image: Kissing Fish

Happy Labor Day, y’all.

As someone who writes, thinks, and speaks about work, Labor Day takes a certain significance as a holiday. Its important political roots often get overshadowed by three-day weekend vacations, family cookouts, outlet shopping sales, and festivities recognizing that summer is almost over.

(And for the record, I’m not begrudging any of these things…I’m damn grateful to have a day off to drink a few beers.)

However, I hope everyone can take a moment and just reflect on what we’ve gained as a result of the labor movement. Many of those gains are represented in the image here. It’s easy to take many of them for granted because they seem so unremarkable.

But look again.

Equal pay for equal work.

Parental leave.

Sick leave.

Overtime laws.

Minimum Wage.

While we may have made some strides toward improvement, these are still issues that need our attention. Women still make less than men while doing the exact same job. Maternity and paternity leave in the U.S. still lags in comparison to other nations. Workers still have to make hard choices between their job and their family’s health when it comes to unpaid sick leave. Real average hourly wages still trend downward against inflation. In other words, while much has been accomplished, there is no room for complacency. We still have work to do because, as Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

Today is a day for equality and justice. It’s a day for rededicating ourselves to demanding economic opportunities. It’s a day for reclaiming the soul of work…not just for ourselves, but for all.

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