Tuesday, May 24, 2022 |
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Aloha to the People of Hawai’i:
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday-September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday to celebrate a “working men’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations.
As we mark the 121st anniversary of this holiday in Hawai’i and across our nation, it is a good time to remind ourselves of the economic and civic significance of trade and labor organizations in our community,
The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership, and most importantly, the American worker.
As you celebrate Labor Day with friends, family members and co-workers, take time to appreciate working men and women around the world, and the many sacrifices and contributions they make to our communities.
James “Duke” R. Aiona
By Russell K. Okata
Labor Day 2003 honors each working man and woman’s contribution to the American way of life.
Without too much thought, we in Hawai’i enjoy the benefits that generations of workers sacrificed their blood, sweat and tears to achieve: the 8-hour day, sick leave, maternity leave, minimum wage, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, prepaid medical, social security and pension protection.
Workers across the country and in Hawai’i, however, are waking up to the fact that they can lose what they take for granted. Under the pretext of patriotism, the President uses the Iraqi War to restrict or eliminate collective bargaining rights for thousands of Americans. Corporate corruption destroys the livelihoods, pensions and retirements of thousands more. Americans from infants to student to the elderly suffer from cuts to childcare, schools and health care. In two years, the nation’s largest federal surplus turned into the largest deficit in our history.
Throughout the country, employees are putting the burden of growing federal and state deficits, tax policies favoring the super-rich, and spiraling prescription drug costs on the backs of employees. Workers are asked to do more with less, but not to share in the harvest. Workers must sacrifice to keep the company alive, but are not guaranteed a comfortable retirement at career’s end. Workplace safety rules are an obstacle to profits. Workers are commodities and liabilities, not the company’s top asset.
Against government and business interests, who fights for workers and their families? Only labor unions. When unionized workers gain, it ripples throughout the community and everyone, including businesses and nonunion workers, benefits. Good union jobs mean stronger communities. Unions – the people who brought you this holiday – make good things possible.
So enjoy Labor Day 2003. Hawai’i’s unions are at work for you.
Russell Okata is Executive Director of the Hawaii Government Employees’ Union.
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