Sunday, September 6, 2009

"A Labor of Love"

In keeping with Labor Day, I decided to snap a photo of a job site in Bend, Oregon as a tribute to the founder of the American Federation of Labor, Samuel Gompers and include this 1950 plate block from my stamp collection.

Samuel Gompers immigrated to the U.S. from England as a boy in 1863 and became a citizen in 1872. At a time when workers had low, daily changing wages, labored under terrible conditions and toiled for long hours, Gompers believed that each employee deserved an "American" standard of living, which guaranteed a safe environment and enough money for food, clothing and education for the families' children. This could be achieved by economic organization and workers voting for politicians who understood their needs. He developed the still current procedure of collective bargaining to establish contracts between management and labor. In 1882, he founded the American Federation of Labor, the AFof L, and was its president until his death in 1924. He staunchly supported women's suffrage and equal wages with men. He also affirmed the rights of negros to participate fully vested in the work force. During World War I, Gompers support of Woodrow Wilson assured the uninterrupted production of war materiels, and, at the end, attended the Peace of Paris in 1919 as an advisor on labor issues.

Certainly the industrial age has practically disappeared. The new era, dominated by technology, has engendered a new relationship between employer and employee with rights and rules mandated and overseen by the states and the federal government. Yet the imprint of Samuel Gomper's hard fought gains are unmistakeable in the workplace. Today, on Labor Day, his legacy deserves to be recalled.


Sylvia K said...

What a fascinating biography that I hate to admit that I was unaware of until this post! Thank you so much for the information and the history! You do tend to enlighten my day in many ways, Lee, thank you!



And thanks as always for your comments, they are always appreciated.

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Lovely biography !! Thanks for sharing the information..Unseen Rajasthan

Small City Scenes said...

Yes--thank Samuel Gompers and the Unions for the standards we appreciate today. MB

I salute the working women and men.

B SQUARED said...

He was a giant in his day.

Jacob said...

What I find so strange is that so many people who have benefited from labor unions are antagonistic toward them these days!

I'd guess we've done a really poor job of teaching American history in our schools. I tried, but how much can you pack in one year?

Great post, Lee. Information we all need to know and remember!

One question: If I have a hard head and am a hard-nose, do I still need to wear a hard hat?

tapirgal said...

Always interesting, Lee. You put a lot of thought into these posts. By the way, the stamps look perfect to me.