Ironic as it may seem, I had to work today on this Labor Day. 7am to 7pm. Pretty much wipes out the day. But at almost $50 an hour, I will whine all the way to the bank. The original Labor day observance was in early May commemorating a protest of more than 10,000 people in Toronto supporting 24 workers from the Typographical Union for leading a strike for shortened work days back in 1872. A larger protest in Ottawa that year led Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald to abolish laws in Canada that barred organized Labor. OH...Canada! This inspired American unions to begin holding rallies of their own. The first September rally was organized by the Knights of Labor in 1882. In 1886, more than 80,000 people marched and were joined by 70,000 workers at more than 1,000 factories joined a picket line supporting the 8 hour work day. Violence broke out in Haymarket Square a few days later resulting in 11 deaths. The "Haymarket Riot" drew national attention to the labor movement. President Grover Cleveland proclaimed May 1st as a day of remembrance but changed his mind because socialist unions also supporting the May observance. In 1887 labor day was officially declared for early September. Most other countries celebrate International Workers Day on May 1st. May day rallies in the United states slacked off due too anti-communist socialist sentiment after World War II.
Locally in Union news, I read in the Eureka Reporter's Andrea Arnot's about town article that Sid Berg, Business Representative for Local 290 Pipefitters and Steamfitters has publicly came forward endorsing the Marina Center project. Mr. Berg says "it will be a positive project for Humboldt County which will bring jobs into our community and an increased level of prosperity to the area." Is he speaking for other unions in the area too? I seem to remember that most other locals supported Bonnie Neely who is opposed to the project. Has something changed that I am missing?
In 2004 the San Manuel tribe had a decision made against them by the National Labor Relation Board basically saying their sovereign nation rights do not supersede NLRB jurisdiction. This gives workers at Indian Casino's the right to organize without the fear of reprisal. It has been an ongoing issue. Locally workers feel that they can not even talk about the union without the fear of being fired. Too bad, this used to be a very well represented union workforce in Humboldt County. I hope that Arla Ramsey and the Blue Lake Rancheria abides by NLRB laws and lets their workers talk freely of their desire to be represented by a union. Stay tuned.
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