Labor Day is brought to you by those who brought you the weekend – Organized Labor.
When I worked in Germany for a short time in the 1990s, labor relations often came up. Some of my colleagues were envious of the US system while most hated it. All of them, however, had a term for what they understood our core principle to be – “Hire and Fire”. The idea of an “at will” employee with no job security in law and no loyalty by tradition was alien to Germans.
Compared to the nations in the developed world which we compete with, our position is unusual. It’s a bias at the foundation of our system – a natural outcome of the demand for a flexible workforce. This is also likely to change as more and more skill is needed to do the jobs of tomorrow.
Labor Day. For most of us, it’s one last picnic as the seasons change over. It’s one last chance to look back over the hot, lazy summer to reflect on where we’ve been and where we are going.
What it’s really for is Labor. Rather than give workers a May Day holiday, the deep suspicions and fear lingering after the Haymarket Riot made politicians wary enough to put the official day clear on the other side of Summer. The US, and later Canada, decided to go it alone in our celebration. Some things never change.
The two of these facts have a lot in common this year as we look back from what is clearly a turning point in the economy. The glass is indeed half-full for Labor – or, if you’re not so optimistic, half-empty. Jobs are being created, if slowly, layoffs are at an all-time low, and wages are finally beginning to creep up. What’s ahead of us? If this keeps up it may surprise just about everyone that a serious labor shortage is in the works – indeed, there already is one in some industries. That’s worth celebrating even more than the end of Summer.
The election of 2016 is still over a year away, but on this Labor Day we can feel something brewing. Democrats are being called back to their basic values of standing up for working people, especially with the tremendous crowds that Sen Bernie Sanders is drawing. Republicans also feel a need to be more populist in a turbulent fight that feels like just about anything might happen. The people of the US are clearly in the mood for more support for working people.
If we can only get it together for once something great may happen. I, for one, think it’s going to take a much deeper understanding of our core values and what is really happening around us before we can make it happen.
Monday is Labor Day. This is a critical day for labor in America because its success is about to define our economic future, at least for the next few months. By the time you read this, you may know how many jobs were officially created in August. If it was 220k or more a September increase in the Fed Funds rate is likely. If it was under 180k there probably will not be a rate increase.
The ADP Employment Report, which is less prone to noise in the first place, came in with a middling 190k gain in jobs.
What’s great about this is that Labor’s success in the last month could kill the stock market, pitting labor directly against investment. There’s nothing productive about that arrangement, but it highlights how strange the world has been. This oddly critical holiday is a good time to recap some of the topics that Barataria has gone over the last few months.
As Democrats contemplate the possibility of losing the Senate, there are many ways we can handle it. We could all sit in the back and throw stuff, much as the Republicans did for the last few years. We could turn on each other and rip our own guts out in a festival of shame and blame. Or, if we’re intent on really standing up to our principles, we can use this time away from being the responsible ones and understand what it is that we, as a party really stand for.
We have a lot to offer if we can only get it together for once. But I, for one, think it’s going to take a much deeper understanding of our core values and what is really happening around us before we can make it happen.
This Labor Day is more important than most. It signals the start of the endgame of the election, the time when everything starts to count even more because everyone is paying attention. And this year, what people are paying attention to more than anything is labor itself – the state of jobs.
Barataria has dealt with the job market many times over the summer. While there is a net gain in jobs over the Obama administration the growth in jobs barely absorbs the young people entering the workforce. It’s not exactly the material for a strong re-election. But that’s not all there is to the jobs picture.