September 3

Labor Day
Reflection

We owe much to the efforts of organized labor over the years as it helped to bring fair wages and better working conditions to the working people of our country. 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. On this Labor Day in some parts of the country, there is an effort to suppress labor unions. We hope that as a nation we will be aware of the rights and justice due to all those who work or are seeking work. Today we keep in mind those who are unemployed or underemployed. We reflect on the growing distance between the very rich and those who are slipping ever lower on the economic scale. As Christians and citizens we are called to look at Labor Day not from the viewpoint of politics and party but from the demands of basic justice.

Prayer

May God guide our nation in creating a more just economy that truly honors the dignity of work and the rights of workers.

Action

Be grateful for the employment that you may have and compassionate toward those who seek work and cannot find it. Become aware of some of the underlying causes
of the current problem in our country as the gap widens between the very rich and everyone else. Be aware of what is being said and done in the public arena. Make choices as a citizen that will be for the common good.

Suggested Reading

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.
Deuteronomy 24:14

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
Proverbs 14:23

Every perspective on economic life that is human, moral, and Christian must be shaped by three questions: What does the economy do for people? What does it do to people? And how do people participate in it?
Economic Justice for All, US Catholic Bishops

Unions and other worker associations have a unique and essential responsibility in this needed economic renewal. Our Church has long taught that unions are ‘an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies.’ … At their best, unions demonstrate solidarity by bringing workers together to speak and act collectively to protect their rights and pursue the common good.
Annual Labor Day Statement, the U.S. Catholic Bishops

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.
Barack Obama

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home…the factory, farm or office where he works…unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Every advance in this half-century-Social Security, civil rights, Medicare, aid to education, one after another-came with the support and leadership of American Labor.
Jimmy Carter

A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.
Thomas Jefferson

No one who works for a living should live in poverty.
Senator Edward Kennedy

 

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