As the Department of Labor explains, "Labor Day is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers." The first Labor Day celebration took place in New York City in 1882, organized by one of the first trade unions. States and municipalities began recognizing it as a holiday in the years that followed, and Congress designated Labor day a Federal holiday in 1894.
Here's a question: Would a bill like that pass Congress today? How far have we really come in the last hundred years? Workers and their rights are under attack all across the country at the local, state, and national levels. Wisconsin is an encouraging sign of resistance, but we're living in a age where the ultra-wealthy are regaining Gilded Age riches and power while the hard-won rights of working-age Americans are being eroded.
If the President of the United States cuts the retirement benefits Americans have paid for throughout their working lives it would reverse more than a century of progress. And it would be unnecessary. Social Security doesn't contribute to the deficit and is easily fixed with relatively minor revenue adjustments. Medicare can only be fixed by correcting the distortions that for-profit medicine have introduced into our health economy - or, to put it more plainly, by getting the greed out of health care.
The Department of Labor notes that this holiday "constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country." Is the White House going to celebrate working people on Monday only to give them the short end of the stick on Thursday?
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