Labor then.

Labor then.
Labor then.

President Roosevelt – Labor Day Message – September 1, 1941 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

As a reminder that, even though today is a holiday, it’s because of the efforts of labor and the struggles of those workers to achieve fair and equitable rights and decent wages for all that we celebrate those efforts.

Labor Unions have been around for a reason. Contrary to what you may have heard, Labor Unions came about as the direct result of poor and unsafe working conditions, no minimum wage, no time off, child labor, unspecified working hours and no medical benefits.

And even though there have been movements afoot to gut those basic provisions, labor remains a strong force in the workplace.

In 1941, Labor was an integral part of the American way of life. And on Labor Day of that year, President Roosevelt gave a radio address, acknowledging the struggles and accomplishments of the Labor Movement in America.

President Roosevelt: “There has never been a moment in our history when Americans were not ready to stand up as free men and fight for their rights.

In times of national emergency, one fact is brought home to us, clearly and decisively—the fact that all of our rights are interdependent.

The right of freedom of worship would mean nothing without freedom of speech. And the rights of free labor as we know them today could not survive without the rights of free enterprise.

That is the indestructible bond that is between us—between all of us Americans: interdependence of interests, privileges, opportunities, responsibilities—interdependence of rights.

That is what unites us—men and women of all sections, of all races, of all faiths, of all occupations, of all political beliefs. That is why we have been able to defy and frustrate the enemies who believed that they could divide us and conquer us from within”.

So even though it’s a time off, last vacation before Thanksgiving and the end of Summer, it’s still a day for reflection on how most everything that has been achieved in this country has been through struggle and sacrifice.

True in 1941 – true now.

Here is FDR’s Labor Day Address, as given on September 1, 1941




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