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Reclaiming Labor Day

Reclaiming Labor Day

Published: August 24, 2012

Labor Day is just around the corner.  It has become a day for families to savor the last bit of summer and last minute back-to-school shopping.  But it wasn't always that way.   When I was a kid, it was a day for huge union picnics.  The teachers had one.  After eveyone enjoyed the fresh corn and other picnic food, the kids played while the grown ups had a union meeting.  These were teachers, so it always started with story telling about some piece of labor history.  Then there was talk about issues for the coming year, then singing of labor songs.  Other parts of the park help other union picnics.  I learned a lot, but what sticks with me most was the grounding in the story of workers struggles to be treated with dignity and respect, of being part of an ongoing story. 

This year, at least in Providence, it is still a day of action.   This Labor Day holds great opportunties to both ground yourself in the history (Remember the Battle of tthe Gravestones) and  to join in the current quest for decent wages, benefits and working conditions by joining the Jobs with Justice march and rally.  It starts at Brown at noon in support of the service workes there, then moves downtown to demand justice for immigrant workers, janitors and all workers.  Or go to Lawerence MA where the Bread and Roses Festival will be marking the 100th anniversary of that strike.  (At least visit the website for a quick review of that story.)

There is a new calendar of September events posted on the SENE website.  Scroll to near the bottom of the page to the Resources section.  It is one of the top links.  As always, there is a lot going on. 

Ok, take a deep breath:  the next two and a half months hold amazing political theater.  While most of us can only bear to engage in it for brief periods of time, there are important races in both MA and RI.  And there are hugely important issues to address.  Like it or not, budget issues are front and center.  I reposted an informational sheet on the three main proposals out there (the President's budget, the Ryan budget and the Budget for All).  Take a look and get ready, please, to speak up at the water cooler or dog park or wherever you get a chance to help your neighbors understand just what is at stake and what the different proposals really mean.  Feel free to print it out and pass it along.  We also have a good stock of the budget ribbons (which unfold to reveal how much of the budget is military).  Let me know if you need some. 

The SENE office will be closed until September 17.  I hope to limit how often I check email.  If you need assistance with something, please feel free to call the regional office, 617-661-6130.  

I hope the summer has held time for rest and renewal!  See you in the Fall!