Actually begun by proclamation of President Grover Cleveland in 1894, it was created to celebrate the economic and social contribution of American workers. It was principally seen as a pro-union holiday since one of the reasons for its creation was a response to the violence noted during the Pullman strikes of that year. Union leaders demanded a special day of honor for their members.
Today it has taken on the more social and seasonal recognition since labor unions constitute a much smaller number of workers than was found in years gone by. More and more people work for companies in right-to-work states and even more states are opting out of union shop requirements. The huge growth in self-employment is another factor in the changing workforce scene. Because of these changes, the largest segment of unionized workers today is in the government sector, including local, state and federal levels, and even this is under pressure for change as taxpayers are objecting to unions having bargaining rights over taxpayer dollars.
As we look at this holiday, I think our biggest concern today regarding labor is the unacceptably large number of able-bodied workers who can't find work. It is an understatement to call today's job market very tight and for those with manufacturing skills work is disappearing. Our workforce participation rate of those eligible to be in the workforce is lower today than it has been in thirty-four years. So if we want to "Celebrate Labor Day" this weekend, why not instead call it a "Day of Concern for those who want to work and can't find work." That makes more sense to me. Americans need jobs, not platitudes from government officials who are actually, by their policies and regulations, doing more to keep people from working by making it less attractive for business to grow and expand. With an ever-growing base of workers, growth is critical.
Let's say a prayer for all of those who want, but can't find, work:
Dear Lord, Here in America we find increasing numbers of good and honest citizens who either can't find work or are no longer looking due to lack of hope. Help them to find work, maintain their faith and strength to do so and even open their eyes to new and previously unrecognized skills which they might be able to use. And help their families who depend on them to stick together in the hard times and love one another during this struggle. And also help our governmental leaders to realize that they play a major role in solving this problem which is not served by making it worse. Government needs to streamline itself, to allow the American spirit to innovate and allow the results to flourish without extensive and complex rules and regulations which no one can understand. Father, help these officials to realize that central control and elimination of individual liberty will seriously retard our growth while freedom always allows for creation of opportunity. And help our business leaders to do their part to support freedom and to create good jobs and to realize that a gainfully employed nation will do much more for their "bottom line" than a populace mired in welfare. Finally Lord, help us all to realize that we cannot succeed in anything without Thee. Dependence on man without Thy intercession is futile and will always lead to failure. Help us to remember this and live our lives for Thee, not merely ourselves. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Have a great weekend and Labor Day but always remember He who is really in charge. Only with Him can we accomplish our goals.