Today is such an odd day. Labor Day 2020. Some of my friends and family are trying to hold onto a sense of normalcy and finding ways to celebrate the last three-day weekend of summer. For the rest of my friends it’s an odd day because we work in the service or hospitality industry for survival jobs and this usually is the busiest weekend before things drop off before Christmas. I’m usually working as much as I can Labor Day weekend, sometimes double/triples between a couple jobs just to stockpile money to get me through to the holiday season while I’m auditioning. This weekend, I didn’t work. Because Covid. And I didn’t really find a way to celebrate or have fun. Because Covid.
But Labor Day really isn’t about fun. Not to say one shouldn’t or couldn’t have fun on this day. But the reason that Labor Day came to be seems to get lost in the last of the season barbecues and boat trips. We lose the “Labor”part of the day and truthfully, I feel more passionately about that then, say, losing the “Christ” in Christmas. Because correlating the celebration of Christmas and the Birth of Christ is spotty at best, Labor Day is celebrated to commemorate the Labor Movement.
The working class fought for many years for fair workplace conditions. In the late 1800’s, the working poor, immigrants, and even children were exploited at the hands of factory and business owners. Many protests, strikes, and riots broke out throughout the country fighting for worker’s rights. It was never lost on me as a former Chicagoan celebrating this day that my former day job was in the Haymarket Square and poetically enough, right down the street from the Chicago Actor’s Equity Association office. I say poetically because from the Labor Movement came the birth of unions in America. And to me, that’s why I celebrate this holiday more fervently than any other summer holiday. Because I am a proud member of several unions. Unions that have always advocate for my rights in the workplace, for better conditions and wages, and (most importantly) to keep me safe during this pandemic. My unions aren’t perfect but they’re there for me. And I’m so proud this (and every) Labor Day to be union strong!
And to really commemorate the day, here are some union actors singing and dancing about forming a union.