Today is the Labor Day holiday in the U.S. Monday Morning Java hopes the majority of our U.S. readers are enjoying a day off, relaxing, spending time with family, or whatever makes you happy this Monday. We also hope you will spent some time reflecting on the meanings of today's holiday observance along with enjoying the BBQ's, beach trips and other fun. But most of all relax. For our international readers we wish you well and hope you enjoy learning a bit about this American holiday.
The Labor Day holiday, which by law is observed on the first Monday of September, was created in the U.S. in 1882. The idea was originated by the Central Labor Union (the original AFL-CIO) to create a day off for workers. The holiday is still celebrated today primarily as a day of rest. It also marks the unofficial end of summer for most of us. Labor Day was made an official federal holiday by an act of the U.S. Congress in 1894.
The organizers of the first Labor Day set the pattern for what is pretty much today's observance of the holiday. They established a street parade on Labor Day Monday, which was designed to demonstrate the solidarity and strength of American workers and labor, followed by speeches from prominent labor leaders and others, and then a festival or "day of rest" for workers from all walks of life.
Many American cities and smaller towns still have such parades followed by speeches from labor leaders. Most American workers however celebrate the day with family and friends relaxing at home or taking advantage of the 3-day holiday weekend to take an end of summer holiday.
We hope our readers will reflect a bit today on the state of the American worker and the contributions workers in every position make to creating the dynamic American economy. We also hope you will reflect on the many American men and woman laboring overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
We also want to take a moment and thank all those who have to work on the Labor Day holiday. America's 24/7 economy is such that not everybody can take today off. (After all we are writing this for example.) We wish those of you in the retail, wholesale, distribution and other sectors all the best as you work to keep the economy running today.
There are many challenges today facing American workers, the business community and economy but the U.S. is a resilient society. The American worker is not only the backbone of the society and economy but the glue that holds that resiliency together.
To help our readers learn more about and reflect a bit on the Labor Day holiday we have selected some articles published today and in the last few days in a variety of publications. The articles offer different perspectives on different aspects of Labor Day and American labor. They all have relevance to people working in the natural and specialty foods and related industries from the executive suite down to the factory, farm, sales route and retail store levels.
The first piece is by writer Mary Shaw from the September 1, 2007 issue of Opednews.com. In her piece, "What Does Labor Day Mean", Ms. Shaw offers her opinion on the state of American labor and what it means on labor day. You can read her opinion piece here.
In a San Francisco Chronicle story (Sept. 2, 2007) staff writer George Raine discusses the state of the U.S. labor movement by focusing on the recent labor agreement reached by Southern California grocery companies like Safeway, Supervalu's Albertson's and others with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the labor union for retail supermarket workers.
In the story, "The State of the U.S. Labor Movement. Grocery Lessons: in key realm of health benefits, new contract improves on body blows of recent years", Raine talks about how at the current time when many American workers are losing ground on their health benefits coverage, the contract deal between the Southern California supermarket companies and workers actually provides improved health coverage for the grocery workers. You can read the San Francisco Chronicle story here .
U.S President George W. Bush made a surprise Labor Day visit to Iraq today on his way to an economic meeting in Australia. President Bush was joined in Iraq on Labor Day by his top cabinet members--Sec. of State Condi Rice and Sec. of Defense Robert Gates. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace also was there as part of the high-level group. You can read more about how President Bush and his top advisers spent Labor Day in Iraq in this piece in today's New York Times here and also in this article in today's USA Today.
Not everybody has the Labor Day holiday off work, nor are many of us with the day off imune from advertising messages today. In this article in today's USA Today, business writer Laura Petrecca discusses how marketers will be blanketing the nation's shorlines today with an air-show of advertising banners powered by small airplanes.
Despite it being a national day of rest and relaxation the Labor Day holiday, especially on
America's beaches and shorlines, is ripe for the picking in terms of advertising messages and the potential for consumers to spend money over the holiday weekend. And since billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising aren't permitted on the beaches and shorlines marketers have found an airborn alternative as the USA story here details.
The American worker, labor and illegal immigration issues are playing a big part in the current campaign for the GOP and Democratic party nominations for President. On the campaign trail in Iowa recently GOP conservative Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, a Congressman from Colorado, talked to a group of Iowans about the illegal immigration issue and how he believes it is effecting American workers and the economy. You can read the story from a recent issue of the Creston, Iowa Creston News Advertiser here.
Democratic party front-runner Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was campaigning in New Hampshire on Sunday. With husband, former two-term President Bill Clinton at her side, Senator Clinton addressed a large crowd of the state's democrats at a rally in Concord, New Hampshire.
In her speech she addressed what she calls her "four big goals" for the U.S. if elected President. Among those goals she said include doing more for the American worker and creating economic plans and incentives to achieve that goal. You can read today's story in the New York Times here for more of what she said.
Senator Clinton also courted the U.S Labor movement today in a Labor day speech in Sioux City, Iowa. You can read what she said to over 2,000 labor activists today in this Associated Press story here.
Small town Labor Day parade. The tradition of the Labor Day street parade is alive and well in Topeka, Kansas. You can watch a video of today's downtown Topeka Labor Day parade and read a bit about it here at ABC 49 the website for the ABC TV affiliate station.
Another Labor Day tradition in the U.S. is the Jerry Lewis MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) Labor Day Telethon. The Labor Day Telethon was founded by comedian Jerry Lewis in 1966 as a way to raise money for research to fight the disease. Only one TV station televised the event in 1966. Today, 42 years and telethon's later, the event is watched by over 40 million people and aired on 190 TV stations nationwide. In his 80's Lewis is once again hosting the telethon as he has for its entire 42 year run. You can read more about the MDA Labor Day Telethon here in this story from yesterday's The Buffalo News.
Additionally, you can go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association website at http://www.mda.or/ to learn more about the association and for details on how you can make an online donation.
The U.S. food and grocery industry is a major supporter of MDA. Supermarket and C-store operators host employee fund-raising drives for MDA. The retailers also conduct the "Aisles of Smiles" in-store promotion each year prior to the September event. Scores of items in the store aisles are offered to shoppers at discount prices and the profits go to MDA. Food and grocery product manufacturers and marketing companies partner financially and give their time with retailers and brokers in order to make this promotion pay big dividends to MDA. The industry raises millions each year for MDA and it's research programs.
Natural~Specialty Foods Memo (NSFM) hopes you enjoy the Labor Day holiday.