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Posts tagged ‘labor day’

Labor Day Curriculum Resources

CIO Education Department comic book pamphlet, c. 1948. Photo by Tobias Higbie, Flickr.

Labor Day honors the American worker and acknowledges the value and dignity of work and its role in American life. The first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5, 1882, in New York. Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday. (Source: U.S. Department of Labor.)

Here are some Labor Resources to help you and your students learn more about our working men and women. Read more

How Labor Unions Raise Wages for Nonunion Workers

Labor DayWhile we enjoy the day off this Monday, we must remember that Labor Day is much more than a long weekend. Working men and women make this country what it is, and their success or failure is the success or failure of the entire nation.

Unions have played a proud role in the history of our country, ensuring important benefits to workers and a strong middle class. As union membership declines and the middle class shrinks, it’s more important than ever to take a hard look at the benefits unions also bring to nonunion workers. Read more

This Labor Day, Recognize Workers and Unions

Labor Day honors working professionals around the country and recognizes their talent, dedication, and drive to make our nation stronger. Workers have made our country what it is today, and the union movement has made it possible for those working professionals to receive fairness and respect in the workplace.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said in a speech to the

The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, government relief for the destitute, and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome.

The labor movement isn’t merely a historical movement, however. The workforce and workplace continue to evolve, and unions are there to meet the needs of today’s workers who are experiencing new challenges in the twenty-first century. Read more

Labor Day: How Are Workers Faring in CT?

CIO Education Department comic book pamphlet, c. 1945. Photo by Tobias Higbie, Flickr.

While we enjoy the day off this Monday, it’s important to remember that Labor Day means much more than a long weekend. Working men and women make this country what it is, and their success or failure spells success or failure for the entire nation.

A report out from Connecticut Voices for Children finds that the wage gap is widening in Connecticut. The state’s median hourly wage, adjusted for inflation, has declined from $20.61 in 2008 to $20.29 in 2011. Most of the growth has gone to Connecticut’s highest wage-earners. Low-income workers have seen hours cut, and an increase in part-time jobs.

The report says that Connecticut is losing its middle-class and that declining job opportunities for youth and decreasing wages and unemployment rates for Hispanics (the state’s largest growing racial demographic) are serious problems the state must face.

Connecticut must recognize the growing threat to its future, and act accordingly. While the recession has thrown the state into a yearly fiscal crisis, only with well-informed and concerted efforts to invest in education, create middle-class jobs with living wages, and protect youth and other populations that are Connecticut’s future, can Connecticut ensure that the next generation of Connecticut residents will prosper.

Support for working men and women and the unions that represent them is just as important now as at any time in our state’s past.

If you have the opportunity to discuss Labor Day with your class next week, or to teach students about labor history at any point in the school year, check out these great curriculum resources NEA has compiled.

Memorial Honoring Civil Rights, Labor Leader Opens in Time for Labor Day

Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial

A labor leader as well as a civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr.'s national memorial is now open to the public in time for Labor Day.

Just in time for Labor Day, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial opened to the public August 22 in Washington, D.C.  Although Dr. King’s role as a civil rights leader is widely known his role as a labor leader is less well-known, but no less important.

In a speech to the Illinois AFL-CIO Convention in 1965 King said that, “The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old age pensions, government relief for the destitute, and above all new wage levels that meant not mere survival, but a tolerable life.”

It is fitting to remember King’s legacy as a supporter of the rights of struggling ordinary Americans on Labor Day as well as in January.

In an April column in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said that King, “realized that removing legal barriers alone would not bring about equal opportunity and economic justice for African-Americans. He recognized that workers of all races – including public employees like the Memphis sanitation workers – would have to use their collective strength to win a fair deal for themselves and their families.”

King’s dream for economic and social justice is still very relevant today. As Van Roekel wrote,

The politicians behind these attacks [on public workers] are trying to stoke resentment of public employees and other union members among workers who aren’t represented by a union. But no American should resent a neighbor for earning a decent living. Instead, middle-class Americans should be concerned about the widening gulf between an ultra-wealthy elite and everyone else.

NEA leadership had planned to join tens of thousands of people this past weekend for a dedication ceremony for the national memorial. However, poor weather conditions from Hurricane Irene necessitated postponing the event.

For information about visiting the memorial go to

Labor Day teaching resources

Planning a lesson about Labor Day?  Click here for a list of great resources and lesson ideas NEA has compiled from a variety of organizations and institutions.

Labor Day 2010: A Time to Honor All of Us

The hardships facing American workers have come sharply into focus during the current recession.  Many have lost jobs, are underemployed, or are worried about possible unemployment.

The American labor movement is more important than ever during these challenging times.  Labor continues to advocate for workers, and is focusing on electing candidates who understand and value working Americans.

Labor Day is a time to honor the American worker, to recognize the significance of workers, and appreciate the huge contributions they have made to our country. Since 1894, when Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September a legal holiday, Labor Day has become a national celebration of our workforce.  Now, more than ever, we need to remember why it is that we are able to enjoy this long weekend.

Despite their decreasing size, labor unions are still a vital force in American pubic life.   As Victor G. Devinatz writes in Combating Negative Views of Unions: A Defense of Labor Studies,

Unions are democratic institutions that represent their members’ wills and are essential for a healthy democratic society.  As political institutions, they also are one of the few remaining vehicles in the United States that represent and provide a voice for the political and economic interests of lower-income and disadvantaged persons.

Teachers have not always enjoyed the professional status and benefits that they have today.  Most of those benefits had to be hard-won through organizing and collective action.  If you have not yet watched the CEA video, Standing Up for Schools, please take a few minutes to see the important sacrifices your predecessors made that ensure better working conditions for you today.

Image of Standing Up for Schools Video - click to watch

Without the benefits that teachers of previous generations fought so hard for, today’s teachers would not be able to focus on children and teaching as they are now able to do.

During CEA’s 2010 Representative Assembly, retired NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin received the Friend of Education Award and, in his speech, answered the question, “How should a teachers union represent the interests of its members in 2010?”

The answer, I submit, is to actively participate in and, indeed, attempt to lead the ongoing debate about education reform at the national, state and local levels. To be open to new and even radical ideas. To accept change, even though change often makes us uncomfortable. And to the extent that there’s any conflict between education reform and employee rights, to make every reasonable effort to achieve an acceptable accommodation.

If you are planning lessons about Labor Day for your class, you can find links to background information and lesson plans on NEA’s website here.

Watch Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis’ 2010 Labor Day Address on The State of the American Worker.