When I was younger I thought Labor Day meant daddy would barbecue. The next day would be our first day of school. I also remember people telling me that I couldn’t wear white after Labor Day. But that is a topic for another blog.
One day when we came home from school. I noticed that daddy didn’t go to sleep after dinner. He usually went to bed so he could get up to work the midnight shift at Chrysler.
We were a middle class family. And I was proud of that. Mommy told me that Daddy was on strike. I tried my best to understand what that meant, but I struggled.
Daddy went to walk the picket line and he didn’t have a contract. Which meant he wasn’t working and not getting a paycheck. That made sense to me then.
I can’t recall how long he was on strike. But I did notice a difference. We ate the can goods. We usually saved those for power outages. I remember eating corn beef hash, spam and fried bologna sandwiches. Another thing I remember is eating breakfast food for dinner. I loved that. Pretty soon daddy was back to work and things were back to normal.
I didn’t fully understand the importance of the union until I began teaching in Detroit. In the Fall of 1999, I experienced my first strike as a teacher. I was getting married in seven weeks. As I walked the picket line. I kept thinking we need to reach a deal quick. I need to pay the florist.
Seriously, I understood what we were fighting for. Reasonable wages and a safe work environment were necessary. The strike lasted less than a week. But our voices were heard in a calm manner and negotiations were settled.
This Labor Day I will reflect on the American labor unit and the contributions of workers to our country.