Today the nation celebrates Labor Day, a holiday “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.” As the United States Depart of Labor defines it, the first Monday of every September “constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
But Republicans — who have repeatedly advanced economic proposals that disproportionately benefit the very wealthy — are giving the holiday an entirely different meaning. This morning, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) tweeted out that Labor Day is a celebration not of the worker, but of management and CEOs:
Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894, after U.S. marshals killed two men in the ill fated Pullman Strike, a railroad workers’ boycott against high rent and low pay. Government violence against the labor movement became a major political issue and “in the immediate wake of the strike, legislation was rushed unanimously through both houses of Congress, and the bill arrived on President [Grover] Cleveland’s desk just six days after his troops had broken the Pullman strike.” He signed the legislation “in an attempt to appease the nation’s workers” but was not re-elected for a second term.