Let Me Clarify
They were not smart or rich. Some might write. Few to none finished school. In many ways they were all slaves.
The children, the men, and the women were trying to survive, to make it through the night.
No great athletes, not a genius among them. The company was the enemy. The boss.
I think of them on Labor Day. About my dad, the filthy coal miner, who swore I’d never work in the mines.
He was right.
When the mines shut down, he was lucky to find any job. He was a plumber’s helper. He mowed lawns and dug sewer ditches. Finally, as a nurse’s aide for the same pay I got as a teenage knucklehead, for my summer job, as a gardener’s assistant, he worked until it was finished.
Mom was a cleaner of footwear in a shoe factory. She had to take two early morning buses and often walked home. Her hands were always dirty and stained from cleaning factory shoes. Sucky work.
I never did piece work, nor had black lung, but at a young age I knew all about both.
Labor Day! I love it, but the more I think about it, and the more I learn about the labor movement, the more pissed off I get.
Wars and soldiers did not build this country. The rich damn sure didn’t. Cowboys (not the jerks in Dallas) and labor did. Workers built America.
“No gods, no masters.”
Look both ways and try to understand.
All workers and all labor around the world are brothers and sisters.
Mind the gaps and may we treat them well. Welcome to America.