I normally don’t post on holidays- but this is an exception I will make. Because I think this holiday needs a lot more “oomph”.
The first Monday in September. And, since 1882, with its first celebration in New York City, it’s grown to be a national holiday. (New York State should have been the first state to make it a state holiday- but they dawdled passing the bill, giving Oregon that honor.)
We still don’t know who thought the idea up. Some say it was Peter McGuire (co-founder of the American Federation of Labor- the AFL in the AFL-CIO), but it probably was the homonym- Mathew Maguire (of the Machinists Union) who should be honored with the production of the idea.
I have been labor and I have been the “man”. (To be honest, I spent a lot more time in my life as the “man”, but, hopefully, I was an enlightened version of a boss.) I’ve written before about my first real job- working in a dry cleaning store… for about a year, before I became management.
And, then I worked as a waiter for a catering hall. It was a union gig. (To be honest, the union wasn’t an omnipresent focus on the job.) After a few years (I think it was three), I became shop steward (Local 923) and eventually an officer (Treasurer)- a position I resigned almost immediately upon election, since I joined the management team of the catering hall.
As an employer, I never paid minimum wage. There were a few reasons for that. For starters, most folks can’t make ends meet getting paid that little. (I do admit, it was easier to do so some 30 years ago, but…) I also never hired the “just adequate”, but searched for those with a little bit more. (One of my eMail signatures give truth to this thought- The difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary is just that little bit “extra”. Let’s aim for the extraordinary!). And, we always shared our profits with our employees- those that were around for at least 18 months.
Given this holiday- and given the state of the economy in the US and the rest of the world, I’ll be writing about labor, the middle class, and business over the next few days.