As Americans enjoy an extended Labor Day weekend marking the end of summer, organized labor’s new message is that they earned the holiday and will continue to fight for a better America and “reclaim the American Dream.”
The AFL/CIO posted a video message on its website Saturday saying Americans should celebrate Labor Day and “get back to the fight” they began fighting over 100 years ago.
“The latest video from AFGE tells us that Labor Day wasn’t a gift. It was something earned by the hard work of ordinary people who decided they weren’t going to sit down without a fight. And they ask what it is that we are willing to fight for today? Watch the video, celebrate Labor Day and get back to the fight,” the posting on the website said.
USA Today notes Labor Day’s violent beginnings.
The late 1800s was a time when the state of labor was grim and U.S. workers suffered bleak conditions, which included 12 or more hour workdays, low pay and hazardous work environments. Children also worked at plants and factories.
The country’s first labor unions were born from the dismal conditions, and strikes and protests, some which turned violent.
On Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march in a parade from City Hall to Union Square in New York City as a tribute to American workers. The march was organized by New York’s Central Labor Union, the country’s first unofficial Labor Day parade.
This Labor Day, unions are calling once again for a movement.
“We need to build an inclusive movement for all working people,” the video states. “We need to raise the floor, smash the glass ceiling, and reclaim the American Dream.”