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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9211
JPY
USD
119.18
GBP
USD
0.6722
CAD
USD
1.2509
INR
USD
62.518

Rates may not be current.