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Carol Forsloff----This weekend the United States celebrates the working man on a holiday called Labor Day. It has its roots in the history of the democracy that experts remind us expanded with the Industrial Revolution, that brought to the forefront the wishes, dreams, hopes and contributions of the ordinary working man.
The United States Department of Labor, the organization that represents the mission of the working man and one of the expert organizations that espouse the history of the labor movement, says this of the origins of Labor Day and what it represents: “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
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Labor Day was founded at a time when the working man spent 12 hours daily, for the most part, sweating in the farms and factories, often with little compensation relative to everyday needs. In those days of the 1800’s, when robber barons ruled, the working man had little opportunity to make a contribution because of the barriers set by heavy hardships, historically documented as time of great difficulty in the transition to full democracy.
Beaverton, Oregon celebrates Labor Day, as many people do, with picnics and parties and the like. Some of the websites referencing the town also announce job openings that are representative of labor’s continuing struggles. For example, it lists a number of temporary and day labor jobs, that US statistics maintain is a segment of the working man’s market that is growing. It is also a reminder that the working man’s day to remember, according to economic experts, is marked by historical differences in terms related to time and social events with today’s labor force continuing its struggle for economic stability, even as demonstrations reveal the fragmentations in the community and some of the same concerns expressed today as they were generations ago.
For this Beaverton journalist, the struggle of the working man represents a family of origin, a grandfather who worked with his hands long hours for a company without a union and benefits, who died with little, a sister a member of a union who now lives a comfortable life, but may lose it in the cutbacks that can occur, there is the worry that the nation is pedaling backward in its honor and respect for the working man.