Labor Day: More Than Just a Day Off – A Reflection on the Workers Who Built America

Labor Day is upon us. For many, this means barbecues and last-minute summer getaways. But do we truly grasp the depth of its significance? Labor Day is far more than just a day off; it’s a tribute to the backbone of our nation: the common worker.
Though Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, its essence seems lost among modern festivities. It’s vital we remember, as Claudrena Harold, a professor at the University of Virginia, mentioned, the day is meant to honor the “critical contributions of working people.”

A Glimpse into Labor History

There are pivotal moments in labor history that have shaped our country and the rights of workers:
1. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, 1911: A devastating fire that claimed the lives of 146 workers, mainly young immigrant women. The horrific event was a turning point, leading to significant workplace safety reforms. Locked doors prevented workers from escaping, a grim example of the importance of workplace safety. The lessons from this tragedy remain relevant today, especially amidst current conversations about workplace safety during the COVID pandemic.
2. The U.S. passes the ‘Magna Carta’ of Labor Law, 1935: The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) or “the Magna Carta of labor” was a game changer. It granted workers the right to organize and paved the way for the establishment of the National Labor Relations Board. This act expanded workers’ rights but notably excluded sectors like farming and domestic work, jobs often occupied by Black and Latino workers.
3. Reagan Fires Striking Air Traffic Controllers, 1981: The 1980s saw a shift when President Ronald Reagan fired over 11,000 air traffic controllers, setting a precedent that dealt a blow to organized labor. This action led to a decline in union membership and sent a clear message: unionized labor was vulnerable.

Where Do We Stand Today?

In a time when workers face wage and income inequality, coupled with new challenges posed by the pandemic, the lessons from our past are invaluable. As advocates for the injured and the wronged, we at OnderLaw understand the sacrifices and challenges faced by workers.
So, as you enjoy your Labor Day festivities, take a moment to remember the struggles and victories of the workers who built America. Share these stories with your family and friends. Let’s honor and advocate for a brighter and safer future for all workers.
Happy Labor Day. Stand tall, stand proud, and always stand up for what’s right.