Labor Day 2009


Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894, thanks to legislation promoted by labor unions and signed by President Grover Cleveland.  But after decades of actually celebrating working people, Labor Day seems to have become more of a generic holiday, in this case marking the unofficial end of summer.

But this year Labor Day may have a more poignant meaning for more Americans than it has had for a generation, because this Labor Day finds more of us unemployed – 9.7% in August – than since the Recession of 1983.  That’s nothing to celebrate.  And if we count those who have settled for part-time work or have entirely given up looking for work, we have an “under-employment” rate of 16.8%.

So we encourage our readers with jobs to “celebrate” Labor Day 2009 by doing something nice for someone you know who is unemployed or under-employed.  Invite them and their families over for a barbecue.  Maybe make an introduction to a friend or acquaintance who can serve as a new networking connection.  Or just drop by with a cold six-pack and shoot the breeze.

Meanwhile, we leave you with the following quotes about work:

  • “Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” (Thomas Edison)
  • “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” (Theodore Roosevelt)
  • “God sells us all things at the price of labor.” (Leonardo da Vinci)
  • “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” (Thomas Jefferson)
  • “I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with the head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.” (John D. Rockefeller)
  • “No great achievement is possible without persistent work.” (Bertrand Russell)
  • “There is no labor a person does that is undignified; if they do it right.” (Bill Cosby)
  • “What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.” (Samuel Gompers)

And one light-hearted one:

  • “I like work: it fascinates me.  I can sit and look at it for hours.” (Jerome K. Jerome)

3 comments so far

Well said….

Good points. We seem to have lost the true meaning of the day, so you brought that back, especially with the quotes.


I saw your post yesterday and I cannot get the Samuel Gompers quote out of my mind. I think the majority of our elected officials (on both sides) need to read this quote every morning before breakfast. It does not appear to me that many of them have been “cultivate their better natures” lately.

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