The Meaning of Labor Day: A Tribute to the Labor Movement

Labor Day is just not the end of summer.  It is a day to reflect and to remember.

Many people forget that the rights and benefits we enjoy today in the workforce were not simply handed out – they had to be won.  The labor movement is either directly or indirectly responsible for many of the things most of us take for granted today, such as the 40-hour work week; child labor laws; workplace safety standards; pregnancy and parental leave; overtime pay; minimum wage; and more or less creating the American middle class.

As mentioned in previous blogs, before we started our own firm, we defended some of the largest U.S. Corporations in the United States (if not the world) in asbestos litigation.  We’ve taken the deposition of hundreds of hard-working Americans who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness that resulted largely from their participation in the workforce. We’ve deposed ironworkers who erected the World Trade Center buildings; laborers who worked at some of the largest steel producing plants in the U.S. like Granite City Steel, in Granite City, Illinois and Bethlehem Steel in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; steamfitters who worked in refineries and manufacturing plants throughout the U.S.; as well as mechanics; carpenters; painters and others who made up the American work-force from the 1940s to the early 1980s.   Out of all these people we deposed, all of them shared a common trait – not one of them ever complained about the hard work or the long hours they endured.

Labor Day is a day to remember not only those people who had the courage and conviction to stand up to their employers to demand many of the protections we enjoy today, but also to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, who endured the long hours and sometimes substandard working conditions to help our country win two world wars, survive a devastating terrorist attack and create an economy that is the envy of the world.

Today, we thank those in labor for all they have done, and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and asked for so little in return.  Today, we remember you, and THANK YOU.