The New Labor Day

from Seth’s Blog

One day a year isn’t much to spend honoring the folks that built everything.

One day a year for the more than twenty that died from the heights and in the caissons as they built the Brooklyn Bridge.

One day a year to remember the 123 women and 23 men who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist tragedy.

And one day a year for the overlooked and disrespected, for the hardworking and the burnt out.

More here.

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4 Responses to The New Labor Day

  1. Henry Steck September 7, 2018 at 7:24 pm #

    I really liked this blog post because I think it captures a flaw in US culture that has existed for a long time.

    If we look back on the evolution of labor regulation in the United States, there are so many tragedies that could have been avoided by swifter government action. The blog highlights the Triangle Fire and the lives that the Brooklyn bridge took. Coming from Chicago, numerous pieces of labor history come to mind. I think of the brutal meat packing factories which employed immigrant workers and the cattle trade. North of the city is Fort Sheridan, named for famous civil war cavalry commander and general Philip Sheridan. Originally built during the US push west, the fort was expanded greatly in the late 1800s for a purpose: to suppress any strikes in downtown Chicago with force. Although a sleepy post for army personnel today (I have seen them take Humvees to McDonalds and back, that’s about it) Fort Sheridan stands as an example for us to remember past worker treatment.
    We often look back on this era in US history and appreciate it, but it is difficult for us to truly embrace the hardships the workers endured. As Seth’s Blog points out, we have so many choices today. Life seems easy. But perhaps these hardships are not gone. Perhaps we are in a new struggle for worker’s rights, and we don’t even realize it.

    While I am absolutely for the author’s call for more recognition of the workers who died for future generations to have rights in the work force, I do not agree that work today is embodied by what the author calls a lack of “heavy lifting”. The reality of work in the 21st century can be pretty grim. While we may not be on an assembly line or in a steel mill, but upon graduating college our entry level employers may work us 80-100 or more hours per week. Lost limbs and other workplace injuries from the past which we see in textbooks from the past have been replaced with depression, carpel tunnel and other injuries which many could argue are just as painful.

    It’s time to stand up for our rights as workers in the United States. Vacation days matter. Work-life balance matters. These issues are often forgotten in ambition of blinding proportion. We are so concerned with moving up that we are numb to the poor conditions. Don’t fall into the trap.

  2. Nicholas Stefanelli September 7, 2018 at 8:21 pm #

    I have to agree with, Henry Steck, this is a very powerful and meaningful article

    I can remember when I was learning how America was made the labor laws were not as strict. I can attest to this because my grandmother’s mother came here from Italy and she worked in an in one of those unforsaken textile companies. My grandmother would tell me that when her mother went to work they would lock them in there and they had no breaks. She word work for 12 hours or more and all they ever got was a few minutes to eat once. she then would talk about how they would even let them out to smoke so some smoked inside and the workspace air was always dirty.

    After hearing what my great grandmother went through to just barely make it in America I have to say we do not give that generation enough respect. On the other hand, though we need to still stand up and do what is right for us now. People now have desk jobs and just because we aren’t losing limbs and getting stuck in fires doesn’t mean our work environments are safe and fair.

    Even till this day, people work more hours than they are supposed to without pay and without the proper breaks need in a workday. we may not be lifting things and exerting physical energy but we are mental. Our brains are powerful machines but we are all human and we all need to stand up for what is right and hold companies accountable for mistreatment of workers.

  3. Michael Martini September 10, 2018 at 9:50 am #

    This article stands out to me because I have always strongly believed that the respect we give to past achievements is often always underestimated. Nobody truly understands the way in which the men and women from the Triangle Shirtwaist Tragedy dedicated their lives to the case. Standing up for your own country is one of the most brave and confident thing one can do, and it displays that you have been put here for a reason.

    I have always believed that some things are meant to happen, and although the death of the people that fought for us is horrifying, it proves that they were the ones meant be known and loved and appreciated. It reminds me of the time when one of my uncles passed away who fought for our nation. His death was heartbreaking, but it helped everyone to realize how hardworking and how loving of a man he was.

    This brings me to the point that events and people should never be forgotten, no matter how long ago or what the case may be. People who died, especially for a purpose, should be cherished forever and viewed as idols for everyone to follow after.

  4. Julia Ausborn September 16, 2018 at 2:12 pm #

    I find this blog post very inspiring, and I agree with every word. Often, I find myself wondering about the workers who have made this style of life for us possible. The people who have died during constructions and horrible work conditions. Let’s think about the History of Labor Day.

    In the 1830s, manufacturing workers were putting in 70-hour weeks on average, working 7 days a week. Organizations like the Central Labor Union and more modern-day counterparts like the AFL-CIO were bringing workers together from different fields to find common interests. The focus was on reducing work days to 8 hours per day and having more days off in general while incorporating holidays and a 6-day work week.

    Clearly, those actions were effective as the average person nowadays works 40-hour weeks, holidays are incorporated and most people work only 5 days a week. Workers in the past had to fight for what we have now. As Henry Steck said, the choice is ours. It is our decision to choose the type of job, hours, location and connections we make. We should always remember that people fought for our freedom.

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