Monday is Labor Day and it’s important to remind our students that it is more than just a day off at the beginning of the school year. Labor unions have accomplished a great many things throughout our country’s history and it’s important to remember that. Depending on your political stance, you may or may not support modern labor unions. However, Monday’s holiday is an important reminder of what labor has done for the American people.
Many governmental policies and laws were enacted with the help of labor unions. Social Security, the Wagner Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act among other legislation were accomplished with labor’s support. Labor’s ability to mobilize large numbers of citizens helped impart the will of the people on our federal government.
In more practical terms, labor has helped better American lives in many ways. Our students might be interested that organized labor helped end child labor and create the weekend. Now, workers are able to collectively bargain, giving them near-equal standing ground as their corporate bosses. Family sick leave and paid vacation time is available to insure a healthy lifestyle among workers. Workers of every racial and ethnic background have equal opportunities thanks to labor’s efforts. The effects of their work is far-reaching.
For more information on the history of labor and Labor Day, check the following links…
- AFSCME’s Top 10 Labor Accomplishments
- Wikipedia articles on Labor Unions in the United States and Labor Day
- The AFLCIO Website
- The US Department of Labor
- Larry Ferlazzo’s Best Websites for Learning About Labor Day
What are your plans for teaching about Labor Day with your students? How do your students view Labor Day? What kinds of celebrations for Labor Day happen at your school?
Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.