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"Being Thankful - But to Who?"
231 sec promotional audio clip

"This is what the Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, and ask where the good way is, and walk in it. You will find rest for your soul."
Jeremiah 6:16 NIV

"What Is Labor Day All About Anyway?"

hard_work_01WHY DO WE CELEBRATE LABOR DAY HERE IN AMERICA?

AND JUST HOW DID WE COME TO BE THE POWERFUL AND SUCCESSFUL LABOR FORCE WE ARE IN THE WORLD TODAY?

HERE'S THE SHORT VERSION OF HOW AMERICA CAME TO BE THE MOST POWERFUL LABOR NATION IN THE WORLD.

    IT WASN'T THAT LONG AGO THAT THINGS AT WORK WERE QUITE DIFFERENT THAN THEY ARE TODAY. PRIOR TO THE 1700'S MOST WORK REQUIRED FEW TOOLS AND MANY PEOPLE WORKED FOR THEMSELVES.

    BUT IN THE 1700'S WHEN THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION BEGAN, EVERYTHING CHANGED. MOST PEOPLE BEGAN TO WORK IN FACTORIES, BECAUSE ONLY WEALTHY INDIVIDUALS OR CORPORATIONS COULD AFFORD THE EXPENSIVE MACHINERY NEEDED TO PRODUCE THE GOODS. SO, THE EMPLOYER BECAME IN COMPLETE CONTROL. AND THIS CONTROL FORCED EMPLOYEES TO BAND TOGETHER TO EQUALIZE THE BARGAINING POWER BETWEEN THEMSELVES AND THEIR BOSSES.

   IT WAS IN THE 1820'S AND 30'S THAT CARPENTERS, PRINTERS, MASONS, AND OTHER SKILLED WORKERS ESTABLISHED CITY-WIDE ORGANIZATIONS TO FIGHT FOR BETTER PAY AND WORK CONDITIONS. IN 1859 THE FIRST NATIONWIDE LABOR ORGANIZATION, THE "NATIONAL UNION OF IRON MOLDERS", WAS FORMED BY WILLIAM SYLVIS. A NUMBER OF OTHER NATIONAL UNIONS FOLLOWED, BUT MOST NEVER LASTED FOR MORE THAN A FEW YEARS.

   IN 1869 PHILADELPHIA GARMENT WORKERS FORMED THE "NOBLE ORDER OF THE KNIGHTS OF LABOR". ITS MEMBERS INCLUDED NOT ONLY WAGE EARNERS BUT ALSO FARMERS AND MERCHANTS. THEY FOUGHT FOR EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK, THE ABOLISHMENT OF HARSH CHILD LABOR, AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE 8 HOUR WORK DAY. UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF TERRENCE POWDERLY IN 1885 THEY WON AN IMPORTANT RAILROAD STRIKE. BUT FAILED STRIKES SOON FOLLOWED AND BY 1900 THIS GROUP HAD ALMOST DISAPPEARED.

   OUR MODERN AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR, THE AFL, HAD ITS BEGINNING IN 1881 AND WAS LEAD BY SAMUEL GOMPERS. UNDER HIS LEADERSHIP THE AFL STRESSED WAGE INCREASES AND OTHER CHANGES IN THE WORKPLACE. THE GROUP'S CHIEF MEANS OF NEGOTIATIONS WAS COLLECTIVE BARGAINING. THEY WERE THE FIRST TO USE THE MARKS CALLED UNION LABELS TO IDENTIFY GOODS MADE BY ITS MEMBERS AND THEY ENCOURAGED SHOPPERS TO "LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL" AND BUY ONLY UNION-MADE PRODUCTS.

   BUT, AS THE LABOR MOVEMENT GREW AND THE UNIONS BECAME MORE POWERFUL, EMPLOYERS FOUGHT BACK. THEY ESTABLISHED BLACKLISTS THAT NAMED UNION MEMBERS MAKING IT HARD FOR THOSE ON THESE BLACKLISTS TO GET A JOB. THEY HIRED STRIKEBREAKERS AND ARMED GUARDS. SOME EVEN HIRED STREET THUGS GIVEN THE NAME "ARMBREAKERS" TO PUSH THE WORKERS DOWN. BUT THE WORKERS REFUSED TO BE BROKEN. OVER THE NEXT 50 YEARS THERE WERE MANY POWERFUL STRIKES WHICH LEAD TO RIOTS AND VIOLENCE. THERE WAS THE HAYMARKET RIOT IN 1886, THE HOMESTEAD STRIKE OF 1892, AND THE PULLMAN STRIKE OF 1894 WHICH WAS FORMED TO PROTEST A SERIOUS RAILROAD WAGE CUT. SOME OF THE STRIKES WERE SUCCESSFUL WHILE OTHERS FAILED. DURING THIS TIME MOST AMERICANS SAW BUSINESS OWNERS AS OUR NATION'S LEADERS AND UNION MEMBERS AS EXTREME AND DANGEROUS RADICALS.

   BUT THAT WAS ALL SOON TO CHANGE. IN 1929 WHEN OUR COUNTRY WAS HIT BY THE GREAT DEPRESSION THE AMERICAN PEOPLE BEGAN TO LOSE THEIR FAITH IN BUSINESS LEADERS BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT PULL OUR COUNTRY OUT OF THE TERRIBLE DEPRESSION. MANY AMERICANS BEGAN TO BELIEVE THAT THE WAY TO FIGHT THE SLUMP WAS TO INCREASE THE PURCHASING POWER OF THE WAGE EARNER, CAUSING THE ATTITUDE TO CHANGE FROM ONE FAVORING BUSINESS OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT TO ONE FAVORING LABOR.

   THEN, IN 1932 PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT PASSED THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL RECOVERY ACT. THIS ACT GUARANTEED WORKERS A MINIMUM WAGE, REASONABLE HOURS, COLLECTIVE BARGAINING, AND THE RIGHT TO JOIN UNIONS. THIS WAS A HUGE VICTORY FOR THE LABOR MOVEMENT.

   TODAY, THERE ARE STILL MIXED EMOTIONS FROM THE AMERICAN PUBLIC REGARDING UNIONS. THERE ARE LITERALLY MILLIONS OF UNION MEMBERS IN OUR NATION, BUT MANY AMERICANS BELIEVE THESE UNIONS HAVE TOO MUCH POWER AND ARE NOT ALWAYS LOOKING OUT FOR THE BEST INTEREST OF ITS MEMBERS AND OUR NATION. IN SOME CASES THAT MIGHT BE TRUE. BUT, ONE THING WE CAN KNOW FOR SURE. IF IT WASN'T FOR THOSE FIRST WORKERS WHO RISKED THEIR JOBS AND THEIR LIVES TO FORM THOSE FIRST UNIONS, IF IT WASN'T FOR THEIR GRIT AND DETERMINATION TO FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT OF THE AMERICAN WORKER, WELL, MANY OF US WOULD NOT BE ENJOYING THE BENEFITS AND THE PAY WE HAVE IN AMERICA TODAY. WE TRULY OWE THEM A GRAT DEBT OF GRATITUDE. HAVE A GREAT LABOR DAY AND DON'T FORGET TO PRAY FOR OUR AMERICA.