Monday, September 02, 2013

But Why Is It Called Labor Day?

"Why do we call it Labor Day -- hurr hurr hurr -- when we don't have to go to work?"

Every year someone makes this joke.

Last year I heard someone on the radio make it.  I cussed for three blocks, using all my worst words, and making the kid bounce in her seat. (She hates some of my worst words, because they're very gendered, and she does not allow me to use gendered swears: "Mom!" she yelled.  And: "MA!")

But seriously. I try very hard not to be paranoid about this fucked society we live in, but what is going on with out education system that people seriously don't know what this holiday Labor Day is about?

That when I teach a class in Working Class Literature, to a classroom filled with Working Class students, I get push-back on whether raising the minimum wage might be a good thing, and on whether Unions are worth having ("Sometimes Unions are corrupt, you know," one of the students told me earnestly), and on whether people living in poverty deserve that fate ("Oh, they all have iPhones," one of the students said).

Here are some links for your Labor Day reading.  Reminders of why we have the holiday, and why we fight, and why we cannot quit.

From Kiss My Wonderwoman: "Big Damn Workingclass Heroes (Firefly)"

From Mike the Mad Biologist: "Marching for a Minimum Wage."

Erik Loomis, over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, with one of his excellent Labor History series: "The Great Railroad Strike."

All the other labor posts from Loomis's series here (very much worth reading).

And this too: "Why Is This Middleclass Disappearing?"

And this!  Eleanor Arnason's post on the 1963 Civil Rights March.


J. Otto Pohl said...

We call it Labor Day because it is the day that UTAG won the great strike of August 2013! Considering it could have been the day we were all thrown out of work for a year I think that is a pretty good thing.

delagar said...

Congratulations, Otto!