Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day

Today is Labor Day. Its originally meaning lost; it is the last long weekend in Summer--it is the end of summer.
Labor Day marked the success of the labor movement's organizing and improving the workplace and people's lives. It originated as the NY machinist union's holiday in 1882. This idea was quickly adopted by other unions across the country. Congress made Labor Day an official holiday in 1894.
Today Labor Day means a day off for most--except those in retail who are serving the needs of the back to school market, and others who are working to maintain our lives--police, fire, hospital workers, transportation workers, etc.
We should reflect on the recent spat of economic indicator reports that were released.
The median family income is up (only because more family members are working, real median income for working families is actually down 5.4% since 2000).
Productivity is up --over 33 % since 1995 (unfortunately though the workers have not realized this-- real wages have declined since 2000).
While the number of people collecting TANF (welfare reformed under the Personal Responsibility Act of 1996) is down (due in part to the law's 5 year lifetime (over the age of 21) limit on being on the welfare rolls), the number of people living in poverty has (as of 2005 Census statistics) has increased since 2000 when it was 11.3% to 12.6% or 37 million people.
The federal minimum wage has not increased since 1997, and at $5.15 does not lift some one out of poverty (18 states do have higher minimum wages--ranging from Wisconsin's %5.7- to a high of $7.63 in Washington--some local municipalities have even higher minimum wages such as Oxnard, California ($12.88).

Meanwhile the rich are getting richer, thanks to tax cuts and corporate compensation and stocks being linked to productivity and profits.

Maybe we need to reclaim the meaning and spirit of Labor Day. . .and join the living wage movement, for instance.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?