Washington-based conservative think tank, Freedom Foundation, says its employees are refusing to take Monday off for Labor Day because of that holiday’s association with labor unions. That’ll show ’em!
The pro-business conservative group announced that its workers will participate in a “work-in” all day instead of the traditional Labor Day activities of grilling, going outside, and visiting with friends and family. It’s unclear whether employees were made to work or if each and every one of them is so committed to thumbing their noses at unions that they volunteered to work an extra day.
On the Freedom Foundation blog, the group says it wants to rename it “Right-to-Work” Day (ugh) and decided the holiday should be about celebrating the “freedom to keep your job even when you choose not to join a union.” Somehow, it hardly seems ripe to catch on. Who wants to give up celebrating a day off from the hard work they’ve done all year for a day of “just be happy you have a job!” while at work? It doesn’t exactly inspire reverie.
Freedom Foundation’s CEO, Tom McCabe, went on to explain that a pro-business group celebrating any “labor” day is tantamount to a betrayal of the message that unions are wicked things that can’t be allowed to have their moment in the national spotlight. Labor unions are so bad, in fact, that McCabe thinks they are the source of all human suffering somehow.
“I can’t think of a problem in society that can’t be traced in some way back to the abuses of organized labor, and it would be hypocritical of us to take a day off on its behalf.”
Yes, if only unions never existed. America could live in a utopia of 12 hour work days, no paid leave and a nonexistent minimum wage. In those conditions, surely all of our societal woes would evaporate on their own.
As Danny Westneat of The Seattle Times points out, making your employees work on Labor Day doesn’t go far enough if you want to truly be an anti-union hardliner. Why not refuse to adhere to other things unions have given us over the years.
“Of course, if McCabe followed this principle to its logical end, he’d have to work every Saturday, too. Year round,” Westneat writes. He could add no overtime. No maternity leave. No vacation days. And no time off for holidays. If you are familiary with A Christmas Carol, you know the drill.
Freedom Foundation does have one thing right: unions and Labor Day do have a shared history, although not one that is commonly known.
Labor Day first began in the aftermath of a strong, sometimes violent, clash in the late 19th century between industrialists and laborers who had grown increasingly frustrated with their poor treatment. After an infamous Pullman strike in Chicago left 30 protesters dead, President Grover Cleveland was eager to find a way to extend an olive branch from the U.S. government and the unions who were gaining popularity and power. Labor Day was born and it marked a celebration in honor of workers and union progress towards better working conditions.
While the role of unions remains divisive in the country, Freedom Foundation’s breathless slandering of the accomplishments of labor are not widely popular. They are well-funded by anti-union corporations like Walmart, but somehow manage to fail spectacularly in their attempts to rouse public support for their vision of a union-less America.
In a brutally clear example, they recently tried to organize a rally and march on Washington’s state Capitol to support kicking unions out of the state. Nobody showed up.
So while you are enjoying your day off on Labor Day (or are one of the millions of workers who still have to work on Labor Day), take a moment to pity poor Freedom Foundation. They abstained from the fun in the sun and will instead by toiling away at their desks – for freedom.