NOTE: This blog essay was first posted September 2, 2014 -- the day after Labor Day that year. It seems even more applicable today, prior to the September 5, 2016, Labor Day Picnic of the Iowa City Federation of Labor.
I am glad to know that there is a system of labor where the laborer can strike if he wants to! I would to God that such a system prevailed all over the world.-- President Abraham Lincoln, "Notes for Speech at Hartford, Connecticut," March 5, 1860, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 4, p. 7
Labor unions have meant new dignity and pride to millions of our countrymen--human companionship on the job, and music in the home -- to be able to see what larger pay checks mean, not to a man as an employee, but as a husband and as a father -- to know these things is to understand what American labor means.- Advertisement --- Adlai Stevenson, Democratic Party Presidential Nominee, 1952, 1956
Today in America, unions have a secure place in our industrial life. Only a handful of reactionaries harbor the ugly thought of breaking unions and depriving working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice. I have no use for those -- regardless of their political party . . ..-- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954
Every advance in this half-century--Social Security, civil rights, Medicare, aid to education, one after another--came with the support and leadership of American Labor.-- President Jimmy Carter [Previous three quotes from "Presidential Quotes."]
It was working men and women who made the 20th century the American century. It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.-- President Barack Obama, "President Obama on Labor Day: The Fight for America's Workers Continues," Milwaukee, Sept. 6, 2010
Yesterday, Labor Day, September 1, 2014, I attended the Iowa City Labor Day Picnic in the Iowa City Park -- as I usually do on Labor Day. There are pictures, below, that capture a wee bit of the spirit of that gathering. It is an opportunity once a year for members and friends of labor to gather, share food everyone has provided (what we used to call a "pot luck" meal), listen to political candidates and quality live music, and generally share what was a lovely summer day in the park.