Remember labor’s heavy history

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Remember labor’s heavy history

Editorial Board

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Tonight will mark the first evening of celebrating a three-day weekend. Labor day, celebrated the first Monday of every September, has been a national holiday since 1894, a day set aside to honor those who fought for, and too often died for, worker rights in this country.

While there are many significant moments in labor’s vast history, we at the Courier would like to take a moment to reflect on the one particular

incident that forever changed the future of workers’ rights in this country.

The Haymarket affair was one of the most significant events in American labor history. It is a historical event that no one should ever forget because the images that resulted from the incident continue to plague the labor

movement in the U.S.

In the spring of 1886, German anarchists protested poor working conditions and low pay at Chicago’s McCormick’s factory.

The anarchist leaders did not call for violence. However, a bomb was thrown at police officers who marched towards the demonstrators on May 4, 1886. The event led to seven policemen deaths, although only one actually died from the bomb blast. The rest had been shot by their fellow men.

No one knows who threw the bomb. Nevertheless, eight anarchists were convicted not because the rigged jury and judge thought they threw the bomb or actively participated with the bomb thrower, but because of their ideas for freedom from exploitation from the elite businessmen who dominated the economy at the time. One died in jail, and four were hung.

Subsequently, U.S. officials crushed any labor agitation, associating any labor movement with the bomb.

Although today’s labor movement might not immediately be associated with the bomb, it is labeled as a menace to society even though it actively sought to uplift the working class from poverty and exploitation.

Keep in mind that as consumers we are casting votes whenever we spend money — we can either support business that are openly anti-union or spend our money at local businesses and unionized businesses.

So, while everyone should take time to relax and enjoy a day off from school, please keep in mind the serious history behind this national day of rest, and perhaps do more than read this column.

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