When I was young I thought that Labor Day was a patriotic holiday on which we should thank the soldiers for their service (like Memorial day). This probably wasn’t due to my parents or the educational system not explaining it, but more likely due to a short attention span and a “yay, we have a day off school even though school just started” mentality. This past week I still couldn't tell you the history of Labor Day, so I looked it up and the History Channel offered this short video.
When I watched it, I was reminded of the power that the labor force holds. They used strikes to drain power from company owners and make them yield to their demands. This power caused fear or at least frustration in business owners. Yet, it is safe to assume that the labor force wouldn't have been as unruly had they not been dehumanized, demeaned or undervalued. Had the business owners valued the workers as people that labored so hard for their profit, instead of viewing them as a work force to be suppressed and managed, they could have collaborated with them instead of provoking violent strikes. It was their fear, pride and greed that kept them from negotiating before strikes. They so tightly held onto their power to increase their bottom line that they were willing to suppress people and treat them as less than human in order to preserve their power and wealth. Unfortunately, this suppression mentality still exists today. Not with you though, right?
It could be argued that the laborers were greedy too, but if inequality, dehumanization and suppression were present, greed isn't the word you would use to describe the desire for equality and respect. Martin Luther King Jr. didn't march out of greed. He marched because equality is a bestowed right that should be protected.
Though the blue-collar labor market has greatly diminished today in the U.S., the fact remains that lower-level employees hold more power than bosses may think they do. Why? Because they make the business happen. You may dream, you may decide, but without them doing, your business wouldn’t happen.
Your employees do more than you know. They go the extra mile and you reap the profits of it.
So if your labor force is working tomorrow, make sure they know how much you appreciate them. If they have the day off, make sure to thank them when they come back in. Workers are what make a difference in the world. Your business is just their handiwork.
Take some time off too. Happy rest-from-your Labor Day!