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A Lens on Economic Independence This Labor Day

Posted by Admin On September - 5 - 2015

By Marc Morial

President & Ceo, National Urban League


President Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894, in an effort to conciliate organized labor after federal response to the Pullman Strike left 30 workers dead and 57 wounded.

The nation was in the throes of a depression when the Pullman Palace Car Company slashed wages for workers who lived in company housing and purchased most of their consumer goods from the company. When Pullman refused to lower rents or other costs, 4,000 Pullman workers went out on strike. Within days, 125,000 workers on 29 railroads walked off the job in solidarity.

Media coverage of the strike stoked anti-immigrant fervor, as many of the workers were recent arrivals. Sadly, we are seeing that same anti-immigrant sentiment being roused today as a distraction from the problems of income inequality and wage stagnation.

In memory of those who died in the name of workers rights, on Labor Day let us rededicate ourselves to our mission of economic opportunity. The National Urban League’s Jobs Rebuild America Plan offers 12 common-sense recommendations for putting America’s neediest communities on a path to economic independence.

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