JESSICA’S JOURNAL: Thankful for Labor Day

Anyone out there have fun Labor Day plans? Maybe going on a weekend-long trip or spending the day with family?
Before this weekend, I want to inform you all of the origins of Labor Day, because, as a child, I thought it was about expectant mothers rather than the American Labor Movement.
First established as a public holiday in Oregon in 1887, Labor Day wasn’t an official federal holiday until 1894. The day is meant to celebrate worker’s contributions to the country.
The majority of states observed Labor Day before President Glover Cleveland had it recognized federally. The legislation he signed was in response to the Pullman Strike of 1894, where strikers were killed by the United States Army and Marshals Service.
In the 19th century, that strike marked a turning point for the direction of labor in this country, and I think the country is at the crossroads of a similar systematic labor shift now.
Around the country there are debates about minimum wage, parental leave and paid time off for workers in all positions. Unfortunately, these discussions aren’t as prominent as they should be, nor are there enough of them.
It shouldn’t be a controversial statement that everyone deserves to be able to afford basic needs such as food, shelter and water. Raising the minimum wage could only help with that, as plenty of families live off it.
America has one of the worst policies when it comes to parental leave. In most cases new parents can’t afford to take time off if their workplace doesn’t have paid parental leave. This forces them to come up with other arrangements for their baby and means they hardly get any time with their newborn.
Vacation time is also sorely undervalued. American workers think they’ll be viewed better by higher-ups if they take less time-off, and maybe they will, but that undermines the positive health benefits of vacations, both physically and mentally. Time-off allows rejuvenation and increases employees’ happiness and productivity.
I encourage you to think on these views as you celebrate Labor Day weekend and remember the origins of its existence. Have a great vacation, Clarkston!

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