Canadian summer essentially starts, from a cultural perspective, on Victoria Day (the weekend after Memorial Day) and ends with Labour Day, which we celebrate on the same day that the United States does. For most Canadians it's become no more than the extended long weekend before school starts again. But this year I am struck by the great importance of remembering the necessity of the Labour Movement, especially in this time when the 1% seem determined to bleed off every scrap from the working class and divide us into rich and poor.
Let's not forget that people died so that we could have a forty hour work week, an eight-hour work day, stat holidays, overtime, safe working conditions, worker's compensation, unemployment insurance, job equity, and once upon a time before all the teeth were taken out of our unions, benefits and pensions. If we are to keep all of these things, we must not forget that the only way to do so is to band together and support one another.
Below is one of the best poems that I know about labor.
I think it's especially appropriate for the one National Holiday out of the year when we honor both workers and the labor movement. The labor movement brought all of us such "basic" benefits as the 8-hour day, the 2-day weekend, lunch breaks, and workplace safety standards (you know, unlocked doors and fire escapes). Once upon a time, the labor movement brought many, many Americans a salary that allowed a family to move into, and, if desired, to advance from, the middle class on one worker's salary. The erosion of the labor movement has kept pace with the erosion of workers' salaries and the erosion of the middle class. Today, many Pagans find themselves living in below middle-class conditions.