Brownielocks and The 3 Bears

Cartoon Fun

Midi is "40 Hour Week" by Alabama.  It plays only once. Or shut it off using button upper right. Lyrics at the bottom.

Labor Day has been around for over 100 years.  It is celebrated on the first Monday in September.

Today, for many of us, our Labor Day holiday is an "official"  sign that summer is over, especially summer vacation for the kids. Many schools start right after Labor Day. (Some start a few days prior.)  For others, Labor Day represents the last of having a long weekend and any attempt to enjoy outings with the family or have fun at the beach.  Also, for many years, Labor Day was the fashion moment when you no longer were allowed to wear white (until Spring) without being judged as a fashion bozo.  (BTW, the rule of not wearing white after Labor Day no longer exists.)  

Unlike a lot of holidays, Labor Day is not based on any old folklore custom, any one person (alive or dead), any religion, race or brought over to America by immigrants from another country.  Labor Day is a holiday set aside to honor all workers.  Therefore, it really has no specific symbol or colors associated with it.  



Some claim that the stimulus for the creation of Labor Day was George Pullman's greed.  He is the president of the Pullman Railroad Cars, which he founded in 1880 in Pullman, Illinois (outside of Chicago).  Pullman, Illinois was a company town.  Mr. Pullman basically ran it like a feudal system.  Everyone in town worked for his company, so their paychecks were all drawn from his bank. They shopped in his stores. Their housing was supplied by Mr. Pullman and they paid him rent.  This all worked out OK, until 1893, when the Pullman Company found itself in a financial pinch.  Orders for railroad sleeping cars dropped. So, the company had to lay-off hundreds of it's workers.  Those who kept their jobs weren't that well-off, however.  They had pay cuts to deal with, while their rent remained the same.  Suddenly, take-home paychecks became non-existent because the workers were basically always in the hole when it came to owing George Pullman for their living necessities.

Well, the employees could only deal with this situation so long and finally they just walked out and went on strike demanding higher pay and lower rents.  Eugene V. Debs was the leader of the American Railway Union  during this time of unrest.  To show support for the Pullman factory workers, Debs organized a national boycott of all trains carrying Pullman sleeping cars.  This ended up becoming a violent boycott with riots, pillaging and burning of some cars. Even non-union workers joined in the protest.

This violent strike ended up causing a national problem, by interrupting trains loaded with products and the U.S. mail.  So, President Grover Cleveland sent 12,000 troops to break the strike.  This created more violence, killing two men in Kensington, Illinois (outside Chicago) when U.S. Deputy Marshals fired on the protesting mob.  

The strike didn't really have a chance, however.  And, on August 3, 1894 it was declared over.  What happened to Mr. Eugene V. Debs?  He went to prison and his American Railway Union was dissolved.   (Note: From prison he campaigned for President under the Socialist party and got close to 1 million votes in 1920.) All the Pullman workers signed an agreement promising to never again unionize.  At this time, the only unions that were in existence anyway were the American Federation of Labor and a few railroad brotherhoods scattered here and there.  The Unions were basically non-existent until the Great Depression in 1929.


President Cleveland, however, upset a lot of people in how he handled the Pullman/Railroad strike.  To help him get re-elected, legislation  setting up a Labor Day was quickly (and unanimously) passed through Congress and placed on President Cleveland's desk for signing just six days after the troops he sent broke the Pullman strike.

The people seemed to want a Labor Day. In September, 1892 a group of New York City workers took a day off (without pay) and marched around Union Square. 

Just two years later, in 1894, President Cleveland jumped at the chance to help console the people by setting up Labor Day. Why? This was an election year.  But, it didn't work. President Cleveland lost!

Some say McGuire, and others say Maguire.  This isn't a name-spelling disagreement.  These are really two different men, who many feel were the inspiration for a holiday to celebrate the working man.

The first is Peter J. McGuire, General Secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.  He is also the co-founder of the American Federation of Labor.  

Then we have....

Matthew Maguire, a machinist, who is said to have suggested the holiday in 1882, while he was secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York City.  Later he became secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, New Jersey.

So who is it really?  Well, since it's the Central Labor Union that actually adopted a Labor Day proposal and set up a committee to plan a union presentation and picnic, many feel it really was Matthew Maguire who was the actual originator of Labor Day.


Ironically, Labor Day is suppose to be the first Monday in September, right? And, yet the very first Labor Day was celebrated on a Tuesday!  September 5, 1882 in New York City (by the Central Labor Union) is considered the first Labor Day observance.  They also held one the following year on September 5, 1883.   

Then, in 1884, they decided to make it the first Monday in September.  The Central Labor Union urged all the other unions to do the same as a "workingmen's holiday."  As labor unions spread, so did the celebration of Labor Day.  By 1885, Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial towns in the United States.   Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor in 1898 said  Labor Day was "the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs were be discussed...that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it."

Unlike some other holidays, Labor Day didn't instantly start out being declared a national holiday by the Congress of the United States for all the states.  Instead, in the beginning, Labor Day began by being adopted one-state-at-a-time per se.

Although New York State's legislature was the first to have a Labor Day bill introduced to them, it was really the state of Oregon  (February 21, 1887) that passed the first bill declaring Labor Day. That same year, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York had their state legislatures pass bills enacting Labor Day in their states. By 1889, Connecticut, Nebraska and Pennsylvania passed bills setting up Labor Day. And by 1894, twenty-three more states passed a bill also.  On June 28, 1894, a bill was passed in Congress stating that the first Monday in September of each year would be a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and all the U.S. territories.

Labor Day was originally meant as a day to honor and exhibit the American spirit through it's hard-working people via the labor unions.  This was done with parades and then recreational activities for the workers and their families to enjoy.  This was how Labor Day was often celebrated for a long time. Some feel this was the inspiration for company picnics as well. But, it wasn't until later on, that politics began to creep into the holiday and speeches by prominent people were introduced into the activities.  As the country had economic struggles and other issues to deal with, Labor Day also became a day dedicated to the spiritual and educational issues of the labor movement.

As I stated in the beginning, Labor Day has now become a rite of passage between summer and into the Fall.  It's a guaranteed 3-day weekend that many workers and families plan on.  Unless Labor Day falls on an election year, there aren't many speeches regarding labor issues, salaries,  etc. taking place like in the past.  In fact, Labor Day has now become more a day of physical and emotional refreshing from one's work.  A time to stop and smell the roses, appreciate one's family and honor all the hard work of a diversified American workforce.

The high standard of living that American enjoy is an example of the hard-working and dedicated labor force that form our ideals of a progressive, economic nation for all!

Quotes about Work

The thicker the hay; the easier mowed.    -- Alaric the Goth

Tools were made, and born were hands,
Every farmer understands.     --- Blake

Get work:
Be sure it is better than what you work to get.  --- E.B. Browning

Absence of occupation is not rest.
A mind quite vacant is a mind distress'd.  ---  Cowper

It is better to wear out than rust out. --- Richard Cumberland

Work is the meat of life, pleasure the dessert. --- B.C. Forbes

The fellow who isn't fired with enthusiasm is apt to be fired. --- B.C. Forbes

The eye of a master will do more work than both his hands. --- Franklin

If little labor, little our our gains;
Man's fortunes are according to his pains.  --- Robert Herrick

The man flaps about with a bunch of feathers; the woman goes to work softly with a cloth. --- O.W. Holmes

One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men.
No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.  --- Elbert Hubbard

People who take pains never to do any more than they get paid for, never get paid for any more than they do.
--- Elbert Hubbard

Better to work and fail than to sleep one's life away. --- Jerome K. Jerome

My father taught me to work; he did not teach me to love it. --- Lincoln

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. --- J.G. Pollard

Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes; work never begun. --- Christina Rossetti

There is a great difference between a young man looking for a situation and one looking for work.
 --- Leslie M. Shaw

Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. --- Mark Twain

Labor: One of the processes by which A acquires property for B. --- Ambrose Bierce

Industry cannot flourish if labor languish. --- Calvin Coolidge

Labor disgraces no man; unfortunately you occasionally find men disgrace labor. --- Ulysses S. Grant

All of the following have authors unknown:

A man of many trades begs his bread on Sundays.

Labor rids us of three great evils: Tediousness, vice and poverty.

Better have one plough than two cradles.

It is not the burden, but the over-burden that kills the beast.

One barber shaves not so close but another finds work.

Republican institutions cannot exist for long where there is enforced labor; or for that matter where there is enforced idleness.


Here are a few toasts that can be used for work or business:


Here's to the man who is wisest and best,
Here's to the man who with judgment is blest.
Here's to the man who's as smart as can be ---
I mean the man who agrees with me.

May our imagination never run away with our judgment.

May we never flatter our superiors or insult our inferiors.

Riches to the generous and power to the merciful.

May we strengthen the weak, give light to the blind, clothe the naked and be friends to mankind.

Our midi is "40 Hour Week (For a Livin') by Alabama
Words and Music by Carl Adams and Tony Blake
Performed by Alabama (1985)

Here are the lyrics:

There are people in this country 
Who work hard ev'ry day; 
Not for fame or fortune do they strive.
But the fruits of their labor 
Are worth more than they're paid
And it's time a few of them were recognized.

Hello Detroit auto worker, 
Let me thank you for your time.
You work a forty hour week for a livin'
Just to send it on down the line.
Hello Pittsburgh steel mill worker,
Let me thank you for your time.
You work a forty hour week for a livin'
Just to send it on down the line.

This is for the one who swings the hammer,
Drivin' home the nail;
For the one behind the counter
Ringin' up the sales;
For the one who fights the fire,
The one who brings the mail;
For ev'ryone who works behind the scenes.

You can see them every morning 
In the factories and the fields,
In the city streets and the quiet country towns.
Workin' together like spokes inside a wheel,
They keep this country turnin' around.

Hello Kansas wheat field farmer,
Let me thank you for your time.
You work a forty hour week for a livin'
Just to send it on down the line.
Hello West Virginia coal miner, 
Let me thank you for your time.
You work a forty hour week for a livin'
Just to send it on down the line.

This is for the one who drives the big rig
Up and down the road;
For the one out in the warehouse
Bringin' in the load;
For the waitress, the mechanic, 
The policeman on patrol;
For ev'ryone who works behind the scenes.
With the spirit you can't replace with no machine.

Hello America, let me thank you for your time.


Midi made especially for us by Ron Tilden
Thanks Ron!

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