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             What Does Labor Day Mean To You?


OGTV makes no apologies for posting a Labor Day story the day after Labor Day Holiday. We had a very defined purpose in mind for today's feature story.  We wanted to know, the day after the holiday, “What Labor Day Means To You”?

Most of us are not familiar with the history of Labor Day, but yet we celebrate all of the benefits of being off from work, and have done so since the early 1900’s.  In 1897, President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a Federal holiday after failing to break up a railroad strike. Labor Day started as a movement before it became a federally recognized holiday to honor workers across the country by celebrating a day off from work.

As one can only imagine during this period of the industrial age, the manufacturing of our nation’s infrastructure was well underway to experience an unprecedented expansion that included robust growth in sectors such as transportation, utilities, telephone, and of course, media.   Factories and coal mines were cropping up around the country, at a time when the child labor laws were rather non existent, and at the height of the Industrial revolution in the late 1800’s when the average American worker was required to put in 12-hour days, and seven-day weeks just to make a basic living. 

Working conditions in the coal mines especially for the very poor, and for immigrants were often very unsafe, unsanitary, and without the breaks we have in businesses today.  The results of unfair treatment of workers gave rise to the labor unions mainly due to a robust manufacturing era, increasingly poorer work conditions, and ultimately a demand for workers rights. Unions would begin to organize strikes, and they became more frequent across the country and much more powerful as a voice of the people.

Many of the protests by unions turned violent including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886 in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed.  On September 5, 1882 10,0000 workers took unpaid time off to march in front of City Hall in New York City to hold the first Labor Day parade in the U,S.  While many states and industry recognized a “working man’s holiday” Congress would not authorize the holiday until May 11, 1894. 

The idea of a "workingman's holiday," celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it. In 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Co. in Chicago went on strike. It took riots and bloodshed by the American Railroad Union to boycott all Pullman railway cars, shutting down railroad traffic nation wide. In the wake of this massive unrest, and in attempt to mend ties with the American worker, Congress passed Labor Day as a legal holiday.

So on this, back to work day for federal workers September 2, 2014, OGTV asks , “What Does Labor Day Mean To You”?  As we hear from Fareed Zacharia in today’s OGTV feature video describe the impact information technology and globalization has had on our economy, and American business.   We learn from his engaging discussion (back in 2011) that the new economy has required business owners to find ways to profit from technology advances while increasing new hire levels, and at the same time improve wage rates. Not much of a celebration for business owners today who face this challenge when technology tends to mean less people and more technology, and government continues to reduce its spending budgets.   For business owners, (espcailly government contractors), this can be a daunting balancing act, an unenviable task, and a 20-hour job, 6 days a week, many times requiring our Sundays, and family time to be sacrificed.  While Labor Day for business owners may very well mean a day not to have to man the phones in the office, and for a company’s senior executives, or mid level manager, Labor Day may allow us to concentrate more on the necessary paperwork they can not get to during a work week, or to better organize strategy for the next 30 days, or to help us focus on a client priority,  Labor Day rarely means a holiday without thinking about work, or actually working.  For the not for profit management team, Labor Day may mean a day of email communications to Board members, and stakeholders in between the hot dog and beer and child who wants attention from Mom or Dad.  No matter what Labor Day means to you, the economic reality of rising labor costs continue to be driven down by today’s new union, called “technology”.  Technology, not Labor Unions, are impacting on costs, driving efficiency, and demanding greater effectiveness from America’s companies today.  The shift in the American economy called consumption growth has exceeded our production growth according to Fareed Zacharia presenting at the Newseum in 2011 to Health care officials, industry, and public policy leaders.  So, our question today, “What Does Labor Day Mean To You” may very well mean that this question tests one’s attitude towards our nation’s current production challenges, and could even measure ones appetite to want to help meet the nation’s calling to become more innovative.

And as a government worker, If you find yourself on the upside of being fully engaged in shaping today’s new economy, then Labor Day to you may also mean something very surreal, like catching up on the needed rest, relaxation, and family time to become more effective as you come back to work to contribute to fostering more programs and policies that encourage invention of products, services, and technologies that will ensure that businesses create jobs to restore our nation’s economy.  So today, as you are back at work, small and large businesses across America can only hope that you are rested, and are even more open to the next big idea that inspires, or energizes your agency to look very seriously at how to help ensure that the next 30 days of September 2014 are the most supportive to the American small business.  Imagine if we could use the history of Labor Day to mark the creation of a new movement to Invent, and innovate success for all people who were feeding their families from innovation and entrepreneurship. This is what Labor Day means to us at  

Happy Labor Day Everyday.

OGTV thanks Pensecola Journal Board for their contribution to this Labor Day article, and Civil Survival for sponsoring this feature story.

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