Labor Day's Legacy
The first Monday of September is a special day in the United States. It's a holiday for which the nation recognizes and celebrates the country’s past and current laborers. However, since its declaration as a federal holiday in 1894 its meaning has changed along with the country’s labor force.
In recent decades the United States’ labor force has been transformed by corporations seeking workers outside the nation’s borders as a response to growing rights and protections for workers within the country. According to recent statistics, about 36% of jobs attributed to U.S. companies are outsourced to countries such as India, China, Indonesia, and the Philippines, while more than half —53%—of manufacturing work associated with U.S. companies occur outside the U.S.; making foreign labor a huge contributor to the U.S. economy and the country’s affluence.
So, many of the products and services we enjoy here in the United States are produced by people outside of the country, working under dangerous conditions for less than the U.S. minimum wage, to be able to provide for themselves and their families.
Give Thanks and Appreciation
While those of us fortunate enough to be able to take a break from our jobs and take advantage of leisurely activities celebrate Labor Day, let us also take advantage of this moment to appreciate and thank those that work to provide us with what we have. If you are reading this blog post from a laptop or a phone, stop and remember that you are able to have such a luxury not just because people from within the U.S. generated the idea of it, but—more than likely—people from another country manufactured it and made the idea of your gadget a reality.
This Labor Day, take some time to bring back the intentional spirit of the holiday and expand it to include everyone. Thank those—including yourself—for their contributions to society. Also appreciate the outdoors and natural areas for providing us with the essential services that give us life and nourish us, because ultimately, it is the work, services and resources of our life sustaining ecosystems that we all depend on.
There are many improvements that need to be made regarding the treatment of laborers and fair worker compensation, especially in countries being exploited for their lack of worker protections. But, realizing that this is the reality of the situation today and knowing that we have the power to improve things in the future, let us honor those whose work we have relied on up to this moment.
Here at the Pachamama Alliance we understand that all of us are connected; we all rely on one another in many ways, and this Labor Day we thank you for all the positive work that you do in your personal lives and your continued support and contribution to the alliance. Together, we can all work side-by-side in changing the dream to reflect that of a environmentally sustainable, socially just, and spiritually fulfilling life for everyone on this planet.