From the Commander, Council of Kadosh (September, 2013)

posted May 30, 2015, 1:14 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 30, 2015, 2:11 PM ]
By the time you read this article, Labor Day will be past and we will be well into the month of September. 
In most of the world, they celebrate International Worker’s Day on May 1. But in the United States and Canada, we celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday in September. 
Before the advent of the Industrial Revolution, most people resided in small, rural communities where their daily existences revolved around farming. Life for the average person was difficult, incomes were meager, malnourishment and disease were common. People produced the bulk of their own food, clothing, furniture and tools. Most manufacturing was done in homes or small, rural shops, using hand tools or simple machines.
The Industrial Revolution marked a shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories and mass production. The iron and textile industries, along with the development of the steam engine, played central roles, and also saw improved systems of transportation, communication and banking. Industrialization brought about a greater volume and variety of factory-produced goods and raised the standard of living for the middle and upper classes. However, life for the poor and working classes continued to be filled with challenges.
In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the U.S., the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines earning a fraction of the adult wage. Children often did the hazardous tasks, such as cleaning the machinery. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities, and breaks. 
Unskilled workers had little job security and were easily replaceable.
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. Ten thousand workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U. S. history. It was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, two of the most important American labor organizations of the time. Congress voted to make Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894, which meant you no longer had to lose a day’s wages to march in a Labor Day parade. 
So here we are 130 years later. The wealthy are still wealthy. The middle class is bigger and worried that their situation is deteriorating. And the poor are still struggling. Our children are in school now, rather than in a factory. And the workers are still working. It reminds me of a favorite song by Merle Haggard:

"It's a big job just gettin' by with nine kids and a wife
I've been a workin' man dang near all my life 
I'll be working long as my two hands are fit to use 
I'll drink my beer in a tavern, 
Sing a little bit of these working man blues...

"Hey hey, the working man, the working man like me
I ain't never been on welfare, that's one place I won't be
Cause I'll be working long as my two hands are fit to use
I drink a little beer in a tavern
Sing a little bit of these working man blues
Yeah drink a little beer in a tavern,
Cry a little bit of these working man blues..."

Daniel Doornbos - Commander - Council of Kadosh