For many of us, Labor Day is the symbolic end of summer—a day for barbecues and relaxing with family and friends. These are good things, but, it is also a day when some reflection on its deeper significance might strengthen our awareness.
. The basic norm we need to consider in this is the dignity of the human person.
Our faith calls us to measure our economic system not only by production, but also by how the means of production and its practices affect the dignity of the human person. The concentration of privilege based in institutional relationships that distribute power and wealth inequitably does not meet our moral norms. We should recall the original struggles of labor to overcome unjust systems in order to achieve its basic needs and consider what has happened since. As Christians and citizens we are called to look at Labor Day from the demands of basic justice.
Let us pray for all who long for just employment and those who work to defend the rights and needs of workers everywhere.
Reflect on how your decisions to buy serve human dignity and the common good. Consider your political views and decisions in terms of your commitment to gospel justice.
Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns.
God is not unjust; God will not forget your work and the love you have shown as you have helped people and continue to help them.
For the Scripture says, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
1 Timothy 5:18
I think of the difficulties which, in various countries, today afflicts the world of work and business; I think of how many, and not just young people, are unemployed, many times due to a purely economic conception of society, which seeks selfish profit, beyond the parameters of social justice.
We cannot separate what we believe from how we act in the marketplace and the broader community, for this is where we make our primary contribution to the pursuit of economic justice.
USCCB, Economic Justice for All
Central to the biblical presentation of justice is that the justice of a community is measured by its treatment of the powerless in society, most often described as the widow, the orphan, the poor and the stranger in the land…What these people have in common is their vulnerability and lack of power.
USCCB, Economic Justice for All
It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.
All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
Martin Luther King Jr.
It is critical that the American people, and not just their financial institutions, be represented at the negotiating table.
For years the divide between the country’s wealthiest individuals and working families has been left unchecked and the pandemic only deepened these inequities. Unions are a critical tool for workers, particularly women and people of color, to achieve a fair and equitable workplace.
I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.
John D. Rockefeller
Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds.
Our labor unions are not narrow, self-seeking groups. They have raised wages, shortened hours, and provided supplemental benefits. Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, they have brought justice and democracy to the shop floor.
John F. Kennedy