News / Economy

    Americans Celebrate Labor Day

    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at Laborfest 2014 at Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sept. 1, 2014.
    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at Laborfest 2014 at Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sept. 1, 2014.
    VOA News

    As Americans celebrate the Labor Day holiday, U.S. President Barack Obama marked it by urging Congress to pass a federal increase in the minimum wage.

    In a speech Monday at a Labor Day festival in the northern U.S. state of Wisconsin, Obama said states with higher minimum wages have higher job growth than states that did not raise the minimum wage.

    "There is no denying a simple truth: America deserves a raise. Folks are doing very well on Wall Street. They're doing very well in the corporate board rooms. Give America a raise," said Obama.

    He said all he wants is a “good deal” for Americans.

    "I want an economy where your hard work pays off with higher wages, and higher incomes and fair pay for women, and workplace flexibility for parents, and affordable health insurance, and decent retirement benefits. I'm not asking for the Moon [the impossible]. I just want a good deal for American workers," the president said.

    Obama is calling on Congress to increase the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

    The U.S. Labor Day holiday honors the contributions of the country's workers.  It also has come to mark the unofficial end of summer in the United States.

    Labor Day’s history

    Marked on the first Monday in September, Labor Day became an official holiday in 1894 after a push by the nation's labor unions.  For decades, cities used the occasion to stage large parades honoring unionized factory workers.

    Labor unions have seen their membership fall steadily in the past 30 years, with the growth of technology and the globalization of the world economy.  In 1983, 20 percent of U.S. workers were in a union compared to 11 percent in 2013.

    However, over the years, unions have seen their work result in many desired benefits being enshrined in much of the U.S. workplace, including five-day work weeks as well as health care and vacations paid for by employers.

    Many U.S. corporations still actively oppose unionization of their workforces.  Many union members work for local, state and federal governments in white collar jobs, not in the gritty factories where the labor movement started.

    The U.S. Labor Day is often celebrated as a day off from work with family picnics and outings.  In some communities, it is the last day before children head back for the start of a new school year on Tuesday.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Cranksy from: USA
    September 01, 2014 3:09 PM
    Something that has been omitted from this good summary of Labor Day in the USA is the political factor in the decline of labor unions: state laws being an example. Although that may be one of the ways corporations actively oppose unionization.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.9093
    JPY
    USD
    104.27
    GBP
    USD
    0.7612
    CAD
    USD
    1.3233
    INR
    USD
    67.329

    Rates may not be current.