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Updated by The Rules on Sep 08, 2015
Headline for What's the deal with Labor Day?
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What's the deal with Labor Day?

Since 1887 the US has celebrated the first Monday of September as Labor day (much of the rest of the world celebrates on International Workers Day - 1st May). For many of us Trade Unions seem like something from a bygone era that have little relevance today. Union membership has declined steeply since the 1970s, and neoliberalism is in the process of removing many of the workers' rights that Trade Unions secured.

This labor day, let's remember some of those rights.

1

The Weekend - another gift from the Trade Unions

The Weekend - another gift from the Trade Unions

Many countries have had a day off for religious reasons for centuries, but a two day weekend is a very recent innovation. It wasn't until 1940 that everyone in the US got the right to have two days off a week. This is now being eroded thanks to precarious jobs (what's a precarious job? do you mean contracts etc?) and people working in multiple part-time jobs, but for those of us lucky enough to have the weekend off, we know who to thank.

2

Lunch Breaks

Lunch Breaks

All breaks at work, including lunch breaks were fought for and won by Trade Unions.

3

Paid Holiday

Paid Holiday

Paid holiday is a right that many, but not all, employees in the US enjoy. They vary from state to state.

6

Paid Sick Leave

Paid Sick Leave

This is one where US workers are lucky if they get it, but it's a right that's been won in most of the rest of the world.

5

Child Labor Laws

Child Labor Laws

The US Fair Labor Standards Act limits the number of hours those under 16 can work and the type of work they can do. This was one of the first protections won by Trade Unionists, and many countries around the world restrict child labor. There is still much work to be done, however, as sadly there are still many children who are put to work.

4

The 8 Hour Day

The 8 Hour Day

"8 hours labour, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours rest"

Enough said.

36 reasons why you should thank a union

Show your support for the labor movement! If for some reason you can't join a union, but want to support your fellow working Americans and fight for good jobs and a just economy, join Working America at www.WorkingAmerica.org.

Here are all 36 reasons to be grateful for unions:

  • Weekends without work
  • All breaks at work, including your lunch breaks
  • Paid vacation
  • Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Sick leave
  • Social Security
  • Minimum wage
  • Civil Rights Act/Title VII - prohibits employer discrimination
  • 8-hour work day
  • Overtime pay
  • Child labor laws
  • Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
  • 40-hour work week
  • Workers' compensation (workers' comp)
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Pensions
  • Workplace safety standards and regulations
  • Employer health care insurance
  • Collective bargaining rights for employees
  • Wrongful termination laws
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
  • Whistleblower protection laws
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) - prohibits employers from using a lie detector test on an employee
  • Veteran's Employment and Training Services (VETS)
  • Compensation increases and evaluations (i.e. raises)
  • Sexual harassment laws
  • Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Holiday pay
  • Employer dental, life, and vision insurance
  • Privacy rights
  • Pregnancy and parental leave
  • Military leave
  • The right to strike
  • Public education for children
  • Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 - requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work
  • Laws ending sweatshops in the United States
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