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April 29, 2022 4 min read

No human masterpiece has been created without great labor

Human societies have developed from the caves to civilization to this grand, ever-developing globalized world because of their labor and never-ending hard work. Labor Day is all about celebrating their efforts and addressing the marginalization they face.  The day indeed is to celebrate their hard work along with raising a voice for their problems. We will discuss Labor Day more in detail later in the article. It will help us understand the purpose of the day and will also help you with the campaign for laborers, “the heroes” of every nation.

What is Labor Day? Labor Day or International Workers Day is a national holiday, dedicated to the labor or working community of a society. Most nations celebrate it on the 1st of May; hence it is also known as Mayday. The day recognizes the importance of the workers and pays tribute to them for their diligence. 

Why do we commemorate it? Workers Day is of prime importance, it unites the workers together, and enables them to collect their thoughts, and spend time with their loved ones. There are protests and programs by various organizations and labor unions to improve the wages and working conditions of laborers. It’s also a symbol of resistance to torture caused by capitalists on laborers. Laborers are the backbone of our economy and deserve to be treated with respect.

Labors’ day is promoted by the Central Labor Union mainly to protect the rights of labor. The labor force is the pillar of any society, and alone makes up more than 50% of the population’s occupation. Therefore, we need to commemorate it to make it better for our laborers every day a little better than before.

When it comes to the fight for workers’ rights in the United States, Latino Americans have been critical players since the early 1900s. Their organizing and agitating have led to improved working conditions and wages in industries across the U.S.

Latinos have been part of the long history of the construction of this country and this labor force,” especially in the American West, says Gaspar Rivera-Salgado, project director at UCLA’s Center for Labor Research and Education. “They were part of the completion of the transcontinental railroad. They were part of the early Los Angeles building boom.” And of course they have had a profound impact on the massive world of American food production, where they have been heavily represented both in the fields and in processing plants.

 

The El Monte Berry Strike

On June 1, 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, 1,500 workers in El Monte, California’s berry fields walked out to demand higher wages and better working conditions. While the work stoppage was part of a larger series of strikes organized by the Cannery and Agricultural Workers’ Industrial Union (CAWIU) that summer, the El Monte labor action gained widespread attention because it was instantly seen as a threat to Southern California’s booming agricultural industry.

The strike also shed sharp light on long-simmering racial tensions between the town’s Mexican, Japanese and white residents, all segregated by local laws. After the Depression caused El Monte’s white landowners to struggle, they began subleasing small plots of land to Japanese farmers who would grow berries, melons and vegetables as cash crops—tended to primarily by members of El Monte’s Mexican migrant worker community, which comprised about 20 percent of the region’s population. Class divides and resentment arose between the Mexican workers, who lived in temporary worker camps, and the Japanese American population, which primarily lived on small family farms.

When wages for berry pickers continued to drop—to as little as nine cents an hour, some claimed—desperate workers began demanding a minimum wage of 35 cents an hour. Berry picker Jesusita Torres was quoted in the book From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-century America about how she sometimes earned less than one penny per basket of berries during this period.

Assisted by a handful of organizers from the national CAWIU, a coalition of El Monte workers called a walkout at the height of the already short berry season—with immediate impact. The Japanese community rallied around its tenant farmers by helping tend the fields themselves. Local political leaders denounced the involvement of the CAWIU, whose communist philosophies and aggressive anti-scab tactics also increasingly unnerved local El Monte laborers. The Mexican consulate even got involved, threatening strikers connected to communist activity with deportation.

The El Monte strikers eventually broke from CAWIU, facilitating negotiations between them, the farm owners and the town. The parties eventually agreed to end the strike after establishing a base daily wage of $1.50 and guaranteeing that workers would be rehired without repercussions. But while the farmworkers declared victory, poor working conditions in El Monte remained pervasive.

We should support laborers with low income economically, and emotionally, and help bring a positive change to them in society. To demand accountability from the system, we must play our part before that and contribute what we can. When society is united, only then we can make the system answerable to it otherwise, the chaos has always benefited those who manipulate to come into power. Remember to appreciate laborers and remember to play your part!

 


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