Maybe Labor Day ought to be renamed.
Right now, the holiday is frequently cast in a historic light, a day off from work to recognize the hard work and sacrifices made by steelworkers, factory grunts, railwaymen, immigrants, and other low skilled laborers who fought for their rights around the turn of the 20th century. And for much of the 1900s, that was just fine — unions had become mainstream, workers earned living wages, and the middle class flourished.
But the last four decades have shredded the lives guaranteed by those brave workers, and at this point, unless you’re a CEO or have the sort of money required to build vast underground bunkers, this Labor Day shouldn’t be a remembrance so much as a reminder of the existential fight we ‘re all in together.
Simply put: When the bosses — mostly rich conservative businessmen (like the late David Koch) — began to take over, the rest of us began to get poorer.
Income inequality has skyrocketed over the last 20 years, and the recovery from the 2008 recession has only underlined the gross disparity. The statistics are grim — even before the Trump tax scam, the top 1% of Americans took home a whopping 188 times more than the bottom 90%. This isn’t a matter of how we treat our most vulnerable so much as a horrifying reality about how hard it is for most of us to get ahead.
The Trump administration, a cabal run for and by the richest bosses, is only pouring gasoline on the blaze, with a run of Department of Labor and NLRB rulings that have more or less granted employers the right to strip employees of overtime pay and generally treat — or mistreat — their employees however they please; they now have the right to discriminate based on “religious beliefs,” hide safety violations, avoid any penalties for sexual harassment, and reclassify employees at will.