Posted by: gotjukies | September 1, 2008

What the heck is Labor Day anyway?!

Hope everyone is enjoying their final summer holiday! Symbolically, Labor Day marks the end of the summer holiday season but it actually originated in 1882 when the Central Labor Union of New York City wanted to give normal working-class citizens “a day off”. In 1894 Congress made it an official federal holiday and since then, we’ve celebrated the spirit of labor unions and labor movements with parades and celebrations.

Now, labor movements are all about fighting for better treatment of employees by their employers and governments. Most movements involve upholding or introducing new laws to ensure workers are being treated fairly by their companies. As Catholics, we too are called to help fight for workers’ rights. As part of Catholic social justice teaching, we believe that every worker has the right to decent and fair wages, and safe working environments. In the poorer and more marginalized countries, people are working long 12 hour shifts for the same amount we make at McDonald’s in one-hour. They work in environments that have high levels of cancer causing chemicals, heavy-lifting with no safety measures in place, and unsanitary work areas crammed with too many employees.

So what exactly can we do about it? I mean, really… most of us are just regular students: We don’t own any companies or have any power over them. Right? WRONG. Remember, these companies need one very important thing to survive: people like us buying their product! If we as Roman Catholics, the world’s largest Christian church with over one-sixth of the world population, stick together and STOP patronizing (buying stuff from) these companies that hire child-labor or provide unhealthy conditions, we can have an impact on the success of these businesses. This social movement is known as the Fair Trade Movement and we can make a difference by purchasing items that are fair-trade ‘certified’. For more information, check out Wikipedia’s article on Fair Trade. You can read arguments for-and-against the Fair Trade Movement and decide for yourself what it means to you. Feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below. If you are interested in fair trade certified brands, try a Google search online.

Just food for thought…

Hope to see everyone again this weekend!!! BBQ FTW!


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