A moment to consider workers

Next Monday is Labor Day.

That’s it.

That was the extent of the holiday’s page 2 mention in the Aug. 30, 1894 edition of the National City Record.

The reticence is noteworthy given that Sept. 1, 1894 would be the first time Labor Day was observed as a national holiday, just slightly over a month after then President Grover Cleveland had declared the first Monday in September would be set aside for observation.

The designation came at a time when the country and the railroad industry had experienced the turmoil of the Pullman strike, one of the hallmark battles between the working class and the magnates who abuse and exploit them.

To be fair, in the next edition of The Record, Sept. 6, a slightly lengthier item appeared:

“Several from this place attended the parade, addresses and ball in San Diego, last Monday evening, Labor Day. The parade of the labor unions was a particularly good one…The ball was largely attended and much enjoyed.”

Maybe one explanation for the apparent indifference is because California and other states had already been celebrating labor with their own versions of the holiday, Gov. Henry Markham having issued an executive order in 1892, a full two years ahead of the president.

More than 100 years later the holiday’s significance has blurred, slipping into the background of everyday workaday noise and serving as an unofficial end to frivolities of the summer season.

But the struggles and rifts between the working class and wealthy owners remain. They may even be worse. Not only has the chasm between the rich and the poor expanded to include the middle class, it has grown to such an extent that one percent of the U.S. population owns more wealth than 90 percent of the rest.

Tech executives, fossil fuel tycoons and financial market kingpins make their billions off the labor and know how of the same people they underpay and lay off to preserve their bottom line profitability.

Labor Day is next Monday.

Take a moment to celebrate the people who work day in and day out with little to show for it. And spare them a prayer.