Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day

Today is Labor day in the United States of America.  Labor day is celebrated on the first Monday of September and commemorates the return to work after summer vacation.  It is a reminder of how important labor is in society.

The idea first appeared in New York where the legislature introduced a bill that would make it a holiday.

However, Oregon was the first to actually legalize it on February 21, 1887.  Shortly after, New York as well as Colorado, New Jersey and Massachusetts would follow. Eventually, Congress would pass a bill making Labor day and official US holiday on June 28, 1894.

Today, most Americans enjoy a day off from work and school.  They usually have a gathering where food is cooked and family time is spent.  Others head to the beaches since it is the last day they will be open to the public.  This has made Labor day the unofficial 'end of summer.'

Labor is important and gives a certain dignity to man.  The Church has always taught the importance of work and has defended the rights to honest labor.  Work gives man a sense of belonging in society.  He/she contributes to the society while at the same time caring for him/herself and his/her family.  We all must work the Earth in order to survive. This is the command of God to Adam and Eve after the fall. (Genesis  3:19)

This is what the Catechism has to say on Work:



2427 Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another.210 Hence work is a duty: "If any one will not work, let him not eat."211 Work honors the Creator's gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work212 in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish.213 Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ.
2428 In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature. The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and its beneficiary. Work is for man, not man for work.214
Everyone should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community. 
2429 Everyone has the right of economic initiative; everyone should make legitimate use of his talents to contribute to the abundance that will benefit all and to harvest the just fruits of his labor. He should seek to observe regulations issued by legitimate authority for the sake of the common good.215 
2430 Economic life brings into play different interests, often opposed to one another. This explains why the conflicts that characterize it arise.216Efforts should be made to reduce these conflicts by negotiation that respects the rights and duties of each social partner: those responsible for business enterprises, representatives of wage- earners (for example, trade unions), and public authorities when appropriate. 
2431 The responsibility of the state. "Economic activity, especially the activity of a market economy, cannot be conducted in an institutional, juridical, or political vacuum. On the contrary, it presupposes sure guarantees of individual freedom and private property, as well as a stable currency and efficient public services. Hence the principal task of the state is to guarantee this security, so that those who work and produce can enjoy the fruits of their labors and thus feel encouraged to work efficiently and honestly. . . . Another task of the state is that of overseeing and directing the exercise of human rights in the economic sector. However, primary responsibility in this area belongs not to the state but to individuals and to the various groups and associations which make up society."217 
2432 Those responsible for business enterprises are responsible to society for the economic and ecological effects of their operations.218 They have an obligation to consider the good of persons and not only the increase of profits. Profits are necessary, however. They make possible the investments that ensure the future of a business and they guarantee employment. 
2433 Access to employment and to professions must be open to all without unjust discrimination: men and women, healthy and disabled, natives and immigrants.219 For its part society should, according to circumstances, help citizens find work and employment.220 
2434 A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it can be a grave injustice.221 In determining fair pay both the needs and the contributions of each person must be taken into account. "Remuneration for work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level, taking into account the role and the productivity of each, the state of the business, and the common good."222 Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages. 
2435 Recourse to a strike is morally legitimate when it cannot be avoided, or at least when it is necessary to obtain a proportionate benefit. It becomes morally unacceptable when accompanied by violence, or when objectives are included that are not directly linked to working conditions or are contrary to the common good. 
2436 It is unjust not to pay the social security contributions required by legitimate authority.
Unemployment almost always wounds its victim's dignity and threatens the equilibrium of his life. Besides the harm done to him personally, it entails many risks for his family.223

You can read more on the Church's teachings on work here:
RERUM NOVARUM
LABOREM EXERCENS

 You can also read more about Labor day here: http://www.dol.gov/laborday/history.htm


I wish everyone a blessed Labor day.  Let us pray for all workers, and for the unemployed that they will find suitable jobs in order to survive in society.

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