Honoring members past and present
According to Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor:
"Labor Day differs in every essential from the other holidays of the year in any country. All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day... is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation."
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.
Labor Day is dedicated to a movement of people without whom this nation would be a very different place. Labor has been at the forefront of social change throughout the past century and a half. Many facets of American life that we regard as undeniable rights were fought for by our brothers and sisters who came before us. Things like unemployment insurance, worker compensation, and the eight-hour work day are the result of the hard work - and even bloodshed - of the past.
The BLE is proud of its role in this fight. We know that without organization there is no strength. The strength of the labor movement comes from the rank-and-file members. This is the most important thing to remember on Labor Day.
When our organization was founded 137 years ago, members had to meet in secrecy because they feared retaliation by railroad bosses. They were involved in a great struggle, not only for the rights of railroaders, but for the rights of all workers. As North America's oldest labor organization, we have been on the front lines of many major struggles. On Labor Day, we commemorate those struggles of the past and the fights that are still going on.
As the International President of the BLE, I urge all members to take time this Labor Day to honor those members of our organization who have fought in the great battles of the past, those who continue to fight today, and those who will keep fighting for generations to come.
© 2000 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers