A Union Labor Day

Happy Labor Day everyone.

Considering our team is named “The Union,” I find it important today to recognize the accomplishments of the labor movement. Today is far more than just a single day off work.

Labor Day is a celebration of America’s labor movements throughout history. The victories of labor include a 40 hour work week, the right to join a union, social security, unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation if injured, and minimum wage.

What’s astonishing is the labor movement faced violence and military repression from the governments in attempts to break up worker demonstrations. Look no further than why we celebrate Labor Day today to see the challenges the workers faced.

Labor Day, itself, was passed by Grover Cleveland to appease angry workers on strike in 1894. Most of the world celebrates a form of Labor Day on May 1st – May Day/International Workers’ Day. Cleveland chose September 1st,  because May Day is associated heavily with the Haymarket Massacre.

On May 4th, 1886, a peaceful labor rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square demonstrated for an 8 hour work and against the police murder of several workers the day before (some things never change). Out of nowhere, an unknown assailant threw a bomb at a crowd of police, killing 7 officers and 4 civilians.

There was no evidence for who threw the bomb. Despite this, eight anarchists were arrested and charged with the evidence it was possible one of them may have built the bomb. The prosecution admitted none were the bomber.

In a gross mockery of the judicial system, the eight were convicted of conspiracy and all but one received the death penalty. Of this seven, two had their charges commuted by the governor, and one committed suicide before he could be executed.

It’s widely accepted these eight figures had nothing to do with the bomb blast. Looking back at history, Chicago used the incident to tackle major anarchist leaders in the labor movement. The bomber has never been identified, but the whole affair is a reminder of the violence the labor movement faced in order to better the life of the average worker.

So on this Labor Day while reading a blog about a team named “The Union,” remember that the most basic rights we enjoy as workers were achieved by workers just like us who struggled in the face of violence and repression.
Oh you don’t get me I’m part of the union
You don’t get me I’m part of the union
You don’t get me I’m part of the union
Till the day I die, till the day I die.

 

If interested in labor history, I recommend checking out Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.

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