Today is the 125th anniversary of Labor Day. This holiday is one of the great legacies of the Labor movement, but so many people have forgotten what labor unions have won for us. The 8-hour workday, the 40 hour week, safe working conditions, equal opportunity, NO CHILD LABOR! FAIR WAGES! AND OMG HOW COULD WE FORGET THE WEEKEND!
Some of these things are still a work in progress. But more disturbing is that we’re losing some of the things we’ve already won. Often the labor movement thought of as something from history – not something we have to worry about today. But anyone reading the news can see that work-weeks are getting longer, wages are stagnant, and people are working more jobs in a grueling attempt to keep up.
All this got us thinking about legacy.
All those old-timey looking men and women we see in tintypes and illustrations were people – – regular people trying to change the world in which they lived for the better. They were fighting for all the conditions and ideas about work we enjoy today. But they were also laying down a legacy.
When we began our careers at the Carpenters Union 20 years ago, we were both merely trying to do meaningful work. In hindsight we understand were also picking up the mantle of all of those regular people who came before us.
We just spent three productive days on retreat with several young Carpenters Union staff members. As we listened to their exciting ideas and experiences, it made us realize how we all are a part of labor’s legacy. It made us look back to see how the crucial mentors in our lives made an impact on who we are today. And it made us recognize our place in the continuum and the responsibility we have to teach and learn from the next generation.
We started Groundwork Strategies three years ago in the interest of expanding our ability to make a change – to deepen our community and amplify the work we’re all doing. It’s been a way to do meaningful work with our colleagues and make a bigger impact. All of the great people and clients we work with day in and day out – they’re all just regular people too – trying to make their world a better place. We couldn’t be more humbled by their belief in us to help make that happen.
Labor Day is an annual reminder that though we must celebrate everything that’s been accomplished, there is so much more we must do.
I guess what we’re saying is “the fight ain’t over, kid.”