Labor Day is a day to celebrate the “creation of the labor movement and… dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country,” according to the Department of Labor.
However, yesterday’s holiday really marks the end of summer. Across the country, it’s celebrated by one last beach weekend, one last Sunday night of porch-sitting without the Monday blues creeping in, one last door-busting deal on back-to-school wares or appliances.
Unfortunately, while we appreciate the Monday off, Labor Day doesn’t evoke the same patriotism and appreciation of American values as other holidays like Veterans’ Day or Memorial Day.
Americans, especially women, should pay more attention to this holiday that honors the labor movement’s accomplishments: things like the eight hour work day, end of child labor, and fair wages.
Women have been a part of America’s working class, laboring for our country, long before a holiday was created to commemorate the workers and we have a proud history on the labor front.
But sometimes it seems like “union” is a dirty word in our country, and people are tired of hearing about the “glass ceiling” or being told to “lean in.” It’s times like these that battles are lost —when the soldiers are fatigued and disheartened, when people feel like they are alone in the fight — but Labor Day should remind us that these wars can be won when people work together.
Passing the Equal Rights Amendment, earning equal pay, and receiving paid maternity leave can all be accomplished as long as we remember the accomplishments of the women laborers that came before us and take advantage of the opportunities we have for progress.
Women AdvaNCe’s Women’s Summit on Thursday, September 24th, 2015 is such an opportunity for women to come together and get reinvigorated to make change. The gathering of feminist scholars, experts in the field and from various progressive nonpartisan organizations will discuss evening the economic playing field, promoting women’s health, advancing ideas about education, and more.
Consider it a Labor Day re-do.
Jennifer Brick is a writer and teacher in Durham, North Carolina. She earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. Follow her on Twitter @jenbrickwrites.