Every year on Labor Day, Americans are reminded of the hard fight that laborers fought to obtain fairness and safety in the workplace. Before the fight, the job of a laborer sometimes was plagued with long hours at 12 hours a day, very little pay, no insurance, and sometimes faced workplace dangers that could lead to death.
However with the rise of unions, muckrakers to spread their story, and voices in government that were willing to listen, the laborer is now protected with over time pay, minimum wage, offered health insurance, and in some states offered sick pay. A look back before the rise of labor rights takes one to before 1920 into the industrial revolution, which started (in America) just after the country won independence from the British and through the 1800’s. For a full reminder of the deplorable and often dirty, polluted and forgotten laborers, one should read this article on the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California website.
President Obama penned a letter on Sept 4, 2016 to honor and remember those that represent the hardworking peoples from the past and present. “At the beginning of the last century, American workers came together to fight for dignity and justice in the workplace. They stood up, marched, and raised their voices. … These hard fought victories because the cornerstones of the greatest middle class the world has ever known.” The full letter can be read here.
Obama then reminded the working men and women of America how important Unions are to laborers and using them as tools to have their voices heard. “As union membership has fallen, inequality has risen. It’s not hard to understand why. Americans in unionized jobs still make roughly 26 percent more than their non-union peers.”
Along with Labor Day, J’ouvert and the West Indian Day parade was celebrated in Brooklyn on the 5th of September this year. J’Overt meaning “daybreak” is celebrated in many countries located throughout the Caribbean.
Unfortunately, even though this occasion is a fun and happy celebration for those celebrating their Caribbean/West Indian culture, the parade is shrouded with back thoughts around the violence that has been displayed at the event in recent years. ABC News reported that this year the New York Police Department had doubled the number of officers for the parade after Carey Gabay was shot last year. Gabay worked for the Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York State and was deputy counsel of the state’s economic development agency. Gabay was shot in the head while two street gangs exchanged gunfire during the festivities last year.