As Labor Day approaches, I often think of the legacy of Francis Perkins. If that name is not familiar to you, I highly recommend going to https://francesperkinscenter.org/learn/her-life/, There you will find a biographical sketch of this woman who served our country during the time of the New Deal as the first woman Secretary of Labor. It is because of her dedicated work that we have some of the significant labor and consumer laws. We owe her a debt of thanks.
Labor Day in Greenbelt is a time of homecoming, festival, the parade, music, and lots of food, including the bar-b-que “luncheon on the lawn” out of our Social Hall. It is also a time to uniquely reflect on those working persons who do the everyday jobs that make life possible.
One of the great influencers of Francis Perkins was her experience seeing women jumping out of the windows of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory as it was engulfed in flames. These were teenagers and young adults, mostly immigrants, definitely poor who jumped to their deaths to avoid death by fire. They had been locked in the upper floors making blouses for the more gentile class. It was a horrific working environment. It was not an unusual hazardous working environment in 1911. Francis Perkins would make it her life’s mission to change the laws so that some protections could be offered to workers.
What are the working conditions today for those in the labor force? Do we speak out against the injustices? If we are paying attention to the teachings of Jesus, that answer is yes.
This Labor Day, let’s enjoy the holiday but let’s also increase our awareness of the labor and working conditions in our community, our state, our nation and our world.