Happy Labor Day, everyone! I hope that you’re enjoying a long weekend in whatever way you choose. There’s an old joke that Labor Day is when we celebrate workers by taking the day off. But it’s much more than that. The idea of a holiday to honor workers has been around since the late 1800s. It even predates the rise of the union movement, although the two are inextricably bound together.
I’m happy to report that this Labor Day is looking a lot better for job seekers than in previous years. It was only a couple of years ago that 17 people were fighting for one job. That was to be the Republican Presidential nominee, and I was one of them. For jobs that get more respect from the media, like fry cook, there were a hundred applicants.
Republicans are often maligned as being anti-union and not caring about workers. Speaking as one of many Republicans who knows what it’s like to grow up poor and do jobs that leave your clothes in desperate need of a wash at the end of the day, I resent that characterization. I don’t whether to laugh or get angry when I hear a third-generation Kennedy family member lecture me on what it’s like to be poor.
The deadly Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire of 1911, where 146 garment workers died because the bosses had locked the doors to prevent unauthorized breaks, long ago proved the need for strong worker representation. However, I believe Americans deserve union leaders who put the needs and the beliefs of the workers first, not their own cushy lifestyles or political sweetheart deals.
Not that there aren’t some Republicans who could use a refresher course on the importance of insuring that everyone who works hard has a shot at the American Dream. When I ran for President in 2008, I got smeared by the Wall Street crowd just for pointing out that just because they had a corner office and a $20 million golden parachute, that didn’t mean the economy was going gangbusters for everyone else. It didn’t give me any gratification that they learned I was right in 2008, when their house of cards collapsed.
Thankfully, we finally have real hope and change to celebrate, and Labor Day 2018 is looking a lot brighter for American workers. The last quarter of GDP growth was well over twice what it was in late 2016. Jobs are being created (and coming back from overseas), unemployment is at record or near-record lows in just about every demographic group, and wages are finally starting to rise after years of stagnation. A new Zogby survey found that 83% of business executives say their business is doing better than it was two years ago, and nearly as many expect it to be even better next year. If they keep sharing their good fortunes with their workers, that will help them survive times good or bad. And if they don’t, it’s finally easier to find a better job.
Now, with establishment Democrats threatened with takeover by outright socialists, and establishment Republicans bewailing that Donald Trump got elected by promising to put the interests of American workers first, I wonder if either of them will ever realize that they brought their problems on themselves by failing to listen to the people they were elected to represent: the hard-working citizens of the United States of America.