“Why labor on and accept the status quo in your workplace when you can speak up and promote change for the better?” -Michael J. Fite
Yearly, on the first Monday in September, the United States celebrate Labor Day. It is an amazing day for a lot of people because they get to barbecue, travel, and even have the weekend off. In the process of celebrations, I think the meaning of Labor Day is forgotten by many. For today, we will answer simply two questions:
- What is the history behind Labor Day?
- What were some key labor issues in the United States?
- What are today’s labor issues that could impact the United States and the world moving forward?
- What can you do to impact labor issues in your workplace?
Now that we have the questions, let’s find the answers!
What is the history behind Labor Day?
Politico did an amazing article that dig into the history of Labor Day in the United States. You can read into the article by clicking on the link below:
I will highlight a few important facts from the article about the history:
- In the 19th century, the United States had various celebrations, picnics, and rallies that focused on labor issues.
- It was first proposed to be a holiday by Matthew Maguire to the Central Labor Union in New York City. The CLU were the first to adopt and sponsor the holiday on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 (Happy 134th birthday Labor Day).
- From 1887-1894, 23 states had adopted legislature making Labor Day a holiday with the option to celebrate it on either on the first Monday or first Tuesday in September.
- On June 28, 1894, United States President Grover Cleveland signed legislation declaring Labor Day a national holiday.
When you look at the history of Labor Day, its objective was to take a day to bring about labor issues in the workplace.
What were some key labor issues in the United States?
The AFL-CIO has a very informative article concerning some important historic events that highlighted labor issues in the United States. You can read into the article by clicking below:
I will list the issues below, but I strongly encourage you to do some research by clicking on each of them to understand in-depth how these events have shaped labor rights in the United States.
- The Battle of Cripple Creek
- 1892 Homestead Strike
- McKees Rock Strike
- Uprising of 20,000 and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
- Atlanta’s Washerwomen Strike
- Lowell Mill Women Create First Union of Working Women
- Nixon No Match for 200,000 Postal Workers
What you find with these events is that people had fought to create better working conditions and situations for all that were involved.
What are today’s labor issues that could impact the United States and the world moving forward?
Forbes has a very good article on four issues that are shaping the workplace today for the future. It is a good read because we are seeing today the effects of these issues, and they all need to be addressed and clarified at some point. You can read into the article by clicking below:
I will briefly touch on the four issues, but I encourage you to do some research and understand more about what these issues could mean to you today and tomorrow.
- Where Does The Organization End—Or Begin? The definition of what an organization is questioned when people, who are outsourced or contracted work by a parent organization, wants the parent organization to treat them as legal employees. It is important to define this issue because you will either have parent companies taking back their outsourced and contracted work, or you will have companies with super long extensions.
- Does Automation Replace—Or Extend—Human Work? Business are saving money and increasing productivity by using automation, but at what cost to the human worker? It is important to understand how can man and machine augment each other, or else you are going to have battle of man versus machine.
- Do People Work To Live–Or Live To Work? If a person is not able to infuse themselves into what they do, it becomes difficult for them to be engaged and attentive at work. It is important to address the atmosphere of work environments to figure out strategies that can encourage people to grow and love what they do at work.
- Is Every Worker An Employee—Or A Leader? I remember growing up being told that in life, you will find too many chiefs but very few followers. In some organizations, that is the case where you have many leaders, but few employees. An open style and blurred definitions are creating a situation in many places where everyone can be a leader, but can everyone be a leader and still get the job done?
It is important to address these issues and more because they not only affect you moving forward, but it will also affect the world moving forward.
What can you do to impact labor issues your workplace?
You have the power to impact the labor issues in your workplace and make your work environment a better place. Although issues can vary from one place to another, there are many tools at your disposal that you can use to positive impact the workplace. I will list a few below that can be effective, if used in the right way.
- Your Voice
- If you see that there is an issue in the workplace, voice your concerns in a manner that promotes a conversation for change.
- You do not have to use profanity or be disrespectful to someone to speak your mind.
- Your voice, if you used right, can bring forth the issues and start the dialogue for change.
- Social Media and Media Outlets
- With the use of social media, you can bring local and global attention to an issue within your workplace.
- Be careful about what you post and share because depending of what it is, it could land you in serious trouble with your job and possibly the law.
- Social Media, when used correctly, can bring world-wide attention to labor issues and promote global conversation and change.
- Rallies and Strikes
- Rallies and strikes can be effective tools towards bring much-needed attention to a particular labor issue in the workplace.
- They can backfire when they promote violence and firmness versus conversation and change.
- Rallies and strikes, when done right, can promote dialogue and bring attention towards issues that otherwise would remain silent.
I encourage you to take the time to look at the labor issues in your own workplace. It is important to identify and recognize the issues because if you do not, it could go on unnoticed and cause problems for other workers in the future. Take advantage of your tools and bring attention to the labor issues you face, but do it in a manner that brings forth peace and change. Let remember that Labor Day reminds us that if we want to bring forth the issues that exists in our workplace, we have the power to bring it up and promote the change needed to have a lasting effect on today and tomorrow.
I have a few questions to ask you in which I would love for you to give some thought. Feel free to answer and comment below.
- What does Labor Day mean to you?
- What labor or work related issue have you brought attention to in your workplace?
- How did you promote change in your workplace?
- What would you recommend to someone who wants to bring up labor issues and promote change?
Your answers and comments can help yourself or someone else deal with the current labor issues and answer this question….
- What can you do to impact labor issues in your workplace?
-Michael J. Fite