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9/5/04 - LABOR DAY  - 2004-09-07

Each year, the first Monday in September is celebrated as Labor Day in the U.S. It is a time to honor the contributions of American workers to a free and a prosperous society.

The story of American labor is a story of enterprise, vision, and hard work that transformed a wilderness into the world’s greatest economic power. It is a story of people from many nations who became one nation, of employees who became employers, of slaves who became free citizens, and of citizens who made government their servant, not their master.

American workers used their political power to make U.S. labor standards among the world’s highest. Workers were given the right to organize into free and independent trade unions, and to bargain collectively with their employers. Forced labor was prohibited. Safe working conditions, fair wages, unemployment insurance, restrictions on child labor, an eight-hour working day, and other benefits became law. Discrimination in employment based on race, sex, religion, or ethnic background was prohibited. Social security and health care were provided for the aged and the disabled in the U.S.

While most Americans are celebrating the Labor Day holiday, President George W. Bush says the U.S. is “grateful to some other hardworking Americans who don’t have the day off”:

“The people of the United States military who are winning the war against terror. The war against terror goes on. It goes on because we love freedom and we’re not going to change and our enemies hate freedom. It goes on because there are cold-blooded killers who have hijacked a religion. It goes on because we refuse to relent.”

American labor leader Samuel Gompers once said, “What is the right of one man is the right of many.” U.S. workers, through peaceful, democratic means, have successfully asserted rights that workers everywhere deserve.