Sunday, September 03, 2006

Happy Labor Day

During my brief career as an adjunct English prof I taught perhaps 700 students. About half of them--those taking classes with me in the Fall--would get pestered about Labor Day the Friday before. "Does anyone know what Labor Day celebrates/honors/memorializes?" I'd ask, less hopefully each time. Not one student knew. "Can anyone guess?" Not one student ever tried to guess. They thought of Labor Day as an occasion for bargain shopping, and never considered for what purpose the holiday was set aside. About a third of my students--those in my business writing class--were juniors, majoring in business, finance, marketing, or human resources. They had no clue.

Sad, really. And the reason productivity, efficiency, and profits are way up, while wages have been stagnant for 35 years is an unaccountable mystery according to the talking heads on CNN and MSNBC. Some buncomb about the new Global Economy typically serves as explanation. Almost universally ignored (though actually mentioned on Jack Cafferty's weekend roundtable Saturday) has been the government and corporate collusion to limit organizing, intensified tremendously under Ronald Reagan. I know the large bookstore chain where I used to manage was guilty of several legal violations when there was agitation for higher wages and the IWW of all groups got involved. Calling them on it cost me a job for the company in Scotland.

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