Sunday, September 4, 2011

Laboring Over Labor Day Trivia, I Discover That Unions Are The Reason for This Seasonal Holiday: Hold the Politicos, Pass The Ketchup

Peter Maguire
Who is the father of Labor Day? 
Peter McGuire, an Irish-American cabinet maker and pioneer unionist, is considered the Father of the Labor Day holiday, when he proposed a day dedicated to all who labor at a meeting of the Central Labor Union on May 18,1882. Another early labor leader was Samuel Gompers who founded the American Federation of Labor (AF of L).  Matthew Maguire (unrelated to Peter), a machinist and a member of the Knights of Labor, also has a claim on the title. As secretary of the New York City Central Labor Union in 1882, he might have issued the invitation and certainly would have been involved in planning the celebration. 

Why do we celebrate this holiday? 
The roots of Labor Day are in unionism.  It began as a celebration of all of the hard working laborer leading to the fight for fair wages and all of the employee rights enjoyed today.

The first Labor Day parade in Union Square, NYC.

When did Labor Day start? 
In September 1883, New York workers staged a parade up Broadway to Union Square. Few, if any, workers got the day off. Most were warned against marching in the parade with the threat of getting fired. Despite the warning, more than 10,000 workers showed up for the march. Led by mounted police, bricklayers in white aprons paraded with a band playing “Killarney.” When the marchers passed a reviewing stand crowded with Knights of Labor a holiday was born. Twelve years later, on June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland, long a foe of organized labor, but under voter pressure, signed a Labor Day holiday bill designating the first Monday in September for the holiday.

How do we celebrate Labor Day?
At one time, Labor Day became the launching pad for Democratic presidential candidates to announce their campaigns. Candidates Harry Truman, Adlai Stevenson, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson came to Detroit to jump start their races and woo union support. As big labor’s leaders lost much of their clout with the rank and file, many workers spent the three-day holiday enjoying backyard barbecues, boats and summer cottages: the fruits of their victories. This is how we celebrate today...the holiday is no longer marked by parades and marches for unionism.

Haymarket Riots, 1886.
When was the first labor strike in the United States?
It is thought that the first labor strike in America was in 1836 when a group of Maine fishermen refused to work after not getting paid by the owners of their boats. Other contenders are an 1872 strike when Peter McGuire and 100,000 workers hit the streets in the largest incident the nation had ever seen or perhaps the 1886 Haymarket Riots in Chicago.

What we earn:
  • The median annual income for full-time, year-round women workers in 2009 was $36,278 compared to men’s $47,127.1
  • In 2008, of the 33,905,000 dual-career couples, wives earned more than their husbands 26.6% of the time.
  • In 2010, the median weekly earnings of full-time working women was $669, compared to $824 for men.
  • In 2010, the median weekly earnings for women in full-time management, professional, and related occupations was $923, compared to $1,256 for men.
  • In 2009, full-time working married women with spouses present had median usual weekly earnings of $708, higher than never married women at $577 or women of other marital status (divorced, separated, or widowed at $646.
  • In 2009, married men with spouses had median usual weekly earnings of $936, higher than never married men at $608 or men of other marital status at $761.
  • In 2009,  full-time Asian female workers had higher median weekly earnings than women of all other races/ethnicities as well as African-American and Latino men. 
What we do:

  • Gaming services workers: 85,000
  • Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists: 718,000
  • Chefs and head cooks: 281,000
  • Firefighters: 258,000
  • Musicians, singers and related workers: 179,000
  • Bakers: 183,000
  • Taxi drivers and chauffeurs: 286,000
  • Service station attendants: 96,000
  • Farmers and ranchers: 825,000
  • Pharmacists: 232,000
  • Teachers: 6.5 million
Other Work Data:
  • 7.3 million workers have more than one job. 
  • "Moonlighters" comprise 5% of workers.
  • There are 10.3 million self-employed workers.
  • There are 20.3 million female workers in educational, health and social services industries., the most popular field for women,
  • There are 11.3 million male workers in manufacturing, the most popular industry among men.
  • There are 15.8 million labor union members nationwide.
  • 13% of salaried workers belong to unions. 
  • The number of people who work at home are approximately 4.5 million.
  • Labor force 154.5 million includes the unemployed.
  • Unemployment 9.2% (June 2011)
  • Main union industries are petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, creative industries, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining, defense, biomedical research and health care services, computers and robotics.
  • Among the nation's workers there are 80.0 million men and 69.1 million women who represent 66% of the civilian adult population.

Commuting by the numbers

  • The average time it takes an American to commute to work is 24.3 minutes.
  • 87.7 %, drive to work
  • 77 % drive alone despite rising fuel costs.
  • 4.7 % of commuters used public transportation to get to work. This was an increase of about 0.1% from 5 years ago.
  • The top cities for public commuting are Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
  • Portland, Oregon has the highest percentage of bicycle commuters among large cities with about 3.5% about eight times the national average of 0.4%.
  • Boston had the highest percentage of people who walk to work at 13 percent.
  • 2.5% of all Americans walk to work.
  • 10.7% of workers car pool and 77.3% of those ride with just one other person.
  • Commuting times: Four of the five counties that make up New York City have the longest commuting times of all U.S. counties with population of 250,000 or more. Queens County commuting time is 41.7 minutes.  Richmond or Staten Island takes 41.3 minutes, the Bronx takes 40.8 minutes and Kings County or Brooklyn takes 39.7 minutes.
  • The average American spends more than 100 hours commuting to work each year. 

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