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Labor Day's Blues

By Mumia Abu-Jamal  Posted by Hans Bennett (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Listen to the radio essay here.

[col. writ. 9/9/09] (c) '09 Mumia Abu-Jamal

Labor Day has historically been a day of tribute to American workers, to his productivity, to her determination, and to their contributions to building and maintaining the nation.

Out of respect to labor's power, harnessed in the early 20th century's massive growth of unions, the day was celebrated as a day off the job -- or relaxation, or frivolous play, or of just being.

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Those visions seem lost in antiquity, from a time long gone by.

That's because they are.

Once, Labor Day was a tribute to their power; today it's a cruel joke, reflecting a growing joblessness, and the loss of union influence.

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Why? Much of this can be traced to the 1992 signing of NAFTA by the then presidents of the U.S., Mexico and Canada. This pact (North American Free Trade Agreement) was a boon to big businesses (at least in the short term), but a bane to workers, especially in the U.S. and Mexico, for it fueled the flight of manufacturers from the U.S. to Mexico in search of cheaper labor. It also allowed U.S. agribusiness to buy up Mexican farmland, throwing hundreds of thousands of Mexican farmers off their lands, and thereby sparking the immigration boom of the last 12-to-15 years.

When manufacturers fled the country, the best paying jobs in America disappeared -- most of them forever.

Politicians paid back their corporate contributors with NAFTA. They repaid their labor voters with betrayal -- sweet words about "working families", while sticking daggers into their vitals.

That, in a nutshell was globalization -- or really, globalized capital and captive labor.

That's because both Democrats and Republicans swore fealty to their Wall St. masters, by deregulating, cutting corners, deprecating unions, and pledging to run the government 'Like a business.'

They have -- that's why they ran it into the ground.

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One need look no farther than Labor Day amidst what corporate media's talking heads call a 'jobless recovery.'

Jobless recovery? In such an instance, who recovers?

Without jobs, how can recovery be possible?

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