Labor Day should be for those who labor

The first ever ‘Labor Day’ parade happened in NYC in 1882. Workers marched and rallied in support of an 8 hour work day. (photo of that ‘first ever’ parade at right). No floats or drum corps; just a bunch of workers tramping down the street. Since 12+ hour days were the norm at that time, I’m pretty sure no one had time to build floats or sew costumes. ‘Labor Day’ did not become a national holiday until 1894, when, with a stroke of a pen, Grover Cleveland signed into law a holiday honoring those who toil for the greater glory of capitalism.

In 2011, a labor group in Wisconsin has declared that Republican politicians who supported changes in collective bargaining for public union employees will not be welcome to participate in this year’s Labor Day parade in Wausau. Link here. The mayor of Wausau has declared that unless republicans are allowed to participate, no public funding for police, etc., will be made available by the city (and then, I would guess, any parade will not take place). Mexican standoff.

I realize that if you are a politician, you never want to miss an opportunity to press the flesh and show your face, but I also feel like marching in a ‘labor day parade’ when you have actively campaigned against workers is a bit like a conscientious objector marching in a victory parade: it makes a mockery of the purpose of the parade. ‘Labor Day’ and ‘Veteran’s Day’ and many other public holidays in the US seem to have become reasons for matress and discount furniture sales and opportunities for those who seek office to kiss babies and shake hands. I’m suggesting that perhaps only those who labor (which means performing the physical work of lifting, carrying, digging, sewing, welding, etc.) should participate in Labor Day parades… and only soldiers and ex-soldiers should be in Veterans day parades, etc., (although I always like the high school marching bands — special exception for those). Perhaps Republican or Democratic or Green Party or Independant candidates should shut up and be on the sidelines as the workers or soldiers go by.

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