Still important in 2016: Fly your flag for American labor, Monday.
Especially important in 2016. It’s a presidential election year. Wave the flag! Labor Day is the “traditional” start of the campaign for the presidency. In your town, most likely, there is a picnic sponsored by a union or other pro-labor group, at which you would be welcomed and can meet many of the candidates in your local races. Go!
Put your flag out at sunrise, take it down at sunset. (Okay, you may fly your flag all weekend — especially if you’re a union member. We get the whole weekend, but Labor Day itself is Monday.)
“Free Labor Will Win,” the poster said, encouraging a theme important during World War II, when unions were encouraged to avoid strikes or any action that might interrupt work to build the “arsenal of democracy” believed necessary to win the war. Labor complied, the war was won, and organized labor was the stronger for it. In 2015, some have difficulty remembering when all Americans knew that our future rides on the backs of organized labor.
In war, America turned to organized labor to get the jobs done. Not only do we owe a debt to labor that deserves remembering, we have many jobs that need to be done now, for which organized labor is the best group to turn to.
The poster was issued by the Office of War Information in 1942, in full color. A black-and-white version at the Library of Congress provides a few details for the time:
Labor Day poster. Labor Day poster distributed to war plants and labor organizations. The original is twenty-eight and one-half inches by forty inches and is printed in full color. It was designed by the Office of War Information (OWI) from a photograph especially arranged by Anton Bruehl, well-known photographer. Copies may be obtained by writing the Distribution Section, Office of War Information [alas, you can’t get a copy from the Office of War Information in 2012]
Even down here in deepest, darkest-right-to-work Texas, patriots fly their flags to honor Labor today. It’s heartening.
What’s the history of labor in your family?
More, Other Resources:
- History of Labor Day from the U.S. Department of Labor
- Unions put the “labor” in Labor Day. (unionspeak.wordpress.com)
- The arts of Labor Day (wagingnonviolence.org)
- Biden to speak in Detroit on Labor Day (wxyz.com)
- At Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:
- While you’re celebrating Labor Day . . .
- Labor Day History
- “Here’s to the troublemakers” letter from Linda Chavez-Thompson
- Remembering Labor on Labor Day (with information about the GM sit-down strike)
- Quote of the moment: Abraham Lincoln, labor is the superior to capital
- There once was a Union Maid
- Erie County to Participate in Statewide STOP-DWI Labor Day Crackdown Enforcement Effort (wkbw.com)
- Labor Day in Canada
- Outstanding lesson plans on Labor Day (and labor, generally) from PBS NewsHour (this stuff is good — check it out even if you’re not a teacher)