Labor Day and America's Biggest Employer
BY DENNY BANISTER
Monday, September 6th – it’s the 116th observance of Labor Day in the United States. We can thank America’s labor unions for this national holiday – they were the creators of Labor Day. In the infancy of the labor union movement in this country, the movement’s followers organized parades to draw attention to the union movement in honor of the American worker.
President Grover Cleveland signed the Labor Day Act into law in 1894, declaring it a legal public holiday. We still observe Labor Day 116 years later, but when we created the concept of observing holidays on Mondays rather than on their own specific date, we significantly reduced the meaning of the events beyond the fact they provide us three-day weekends.
Consider how important Labor Day was to our country when it was established and declared a legal holiday. Americans were given a paid day off from work to allow them to attend and participate in parades and special ceremonies recognizing the significance of the labor movement.
When we think of Labor Day, we usually do not think of the American farmer. It’s not that farmers don’t labor for a living, they do – but farmers comprise less than two percent of the work force, and few non-farmers can relate to the labors farmers perform.
While farmers belong to farm organizations representing their interests, few would embrace the labor movement as a practical method for filing their grievances. Let’s face it; agriculture is not conducive to strikes. A strike occurring in early spring prior to planting and not resolved until summer would result in no crop to harvest in the fall. The consequences would be serious for farmers and consumers alike.
As an industry, however, agriculture deserves special recognition on Labor Day. While most of us are far removed from farming, it's important to note approximately 20 percent of us have jobs thanks to farming. Happy Labor Day from the American Farmer, the nation's biggest employer.
Denny Banister, of Jefferson City, Mo., is a retired broadcaster from Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.
An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation, Cut to the Chase may be used as an op-ed piece or letter to the editor.