Today, our team at NPI honors and thanks the millions of working people over the course of American and Canadian history whose collective struggle for better pay and working conditions have lifted up families and communities all over the world.
Labor Day, established in the late nineteenth century, was born out of the union movement. It’s a day to recognize the immense contributions and sacrifices of our workers. The holiday has always been a testament to the enduring spirit of the working class, but as we approach another presidential election year in a challenging and tumultuous era for our country, it has special significance.
In the face of a rapidly changing global landscape, the resilience and adaptability of working people have been tested like never before. The last few years have witnessed shifts towards digitization, remote work, and gig work. While these changes brought along numerous opportunities, they have also posed challenges.
Fortunately, young workers are demonstrating leadership in the face of these challenges. They aren’t waiting for events to shape them. They’re stepping up.
“A few weeks ago, I stood on the streets of New York City with working actors, performers and writers from SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America who have been on strike for months now: risking their livelihoods to win a fair contract for themselves and all who come after,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler in a Labor Day essay. “We chanted. We walked the picket line. But what inspired me most was when working people all around us — overwhelmingly young workers, in their 20s and 30s — saw what was happening and joined in.”
“These young workers are coming into the movement because they know a union on the job is an act of defiance against the status quo,” Shuler added. “Because our agenda is their agenda: We deliver good-paying, stable jobs. Jobs that are safe. Jobs that do not leave you bouncing from gig work to gig work. And because we use our power beyond the workplace: to stand up for our democracy, protect against A.I. that dehumanizes and degrades work, and take on the climate crisis. Young workers know what all workers know: It’s better in a union.”
“I promised to be the most pro-union President in history, and I firmly believe that every worker in America should have the free and fair choice to join a union or organize and bargain collectively with their employer without coercion or intimidation,” said President Joe Biden in a 2023 Labor Day proclamation.
“That is because when organized labor wins, our Nation wins. My Administration will continue to support and encourage labor unions so that workers have a seat at the decision-making table, an opportunity to speak truth to power, and the support to fight for the dignity and respect they deserve.”
“On Labor Day, we stand in solidarity with all the workers who lift our Nation to new heights and all the labor unions who give all workers power and voice. May we continue working to restore the American Dream for every person willing to work hard in our Nation by embracing what has always been the foundation of our country’s success: investing in America and American workers.”
For those of us who enjoy the freedom not to have to work today, let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the values that Labor Day embodies:
- Respect for Every Job: From the farmworkers who harvest our food to the machinists who build our planes and the teachers who educate our kids, every job matters, and deserves our respect and appreciation.
- Solidarity: Labor Day emerged from the labor union movements which were grounded in the principle of solidarity. In today’s fragmented world, this sense of unity is more crucial than ever. It reminds us that when we stand together, our collective strength can move mountains.
- Adaptability: If there’s one thing the past few years have taught us, it’s the importance of adaptability. The world changes, industries evolve, and new challenges arise. Our workers’ willingness to adapt and innovate is crucial to keeping the United States and Canada economically competitive.
- Rest and Balance: While hard work is commendable, it’s equally essential to recognize the importance of self-care, relaxation, and spending time with family and friends. Productive work keeps the economy humming, but all of us deserve rest and rejuvenation. It’s a right that past workers have sacrificed a lot to establish and expand. At NPI, we believe that all workers should have paid medical leave, paid family leave, and paid vacation leave.
With our nation approaching yet another monumentally consequential election, it’s essential to remember the lessons from our past. The history of Labor Day is replete with stories of struggle, resilience, and triumph. As we face new challenges, these stories serve as a beacon, guiding us towards a brighter future.
So, this Labor Day, as you bite into that burger or enjoy a game with your family, take a moment to salute American and Canadian workers. Their dedication, hard work, and spirit have built North America into what it is today.
Again, Happy Labor Day!