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Labor Day & Communication: Generating Change

In the current sociopolitical environment, it’s important to remember the strong role that communication plays on effecting change. We are part of a greater entity; we have a responsibility to future generations to maintain an environment open to healthy communication in an effort to accomodate changing standards and surrounding needs. Healthy communication requires the ability to speak, to express, to hear, and to understand. Our sense organs – our ears and our throats – need to be functional to enable communication. Also important is our ability to receive a message, to understand and to appreciate what is being communicated. This requires higher level cognitive analysis and integration, and is largely a catalyst for communication to be healthy and effective. It’s this all-inclusive interpretation of communication that help us all to work together and effect progress.

For many, Labor Day symbolizes the end of the summer: last minute BBQs, pool parties, and back-to-school preparations. But the history of Labor Day runs deeper than end-of-summer/beginning fall events.

Every year on the first Monday of September, Labor day is celebrated as a tribute to workers, their achievements, and their influence on America’s growth. It was originally created from the labor movement in the late 1800s and became a federal holiday under the presidency of Grover Cleveland in 1894.

It was the height of the Industrial Revolution. There were poor and unsafe working conditions, workdays that were lengthy and without breaks, and expectations that a worker would be on the job seven days a week. This resulted in the increasing presence of labor unions to counter these inhumane working circumstances. Rallies and protests were organized to give workers a voice and to persuade employers to rethink working conditions and employee wages. These protests were not peaceful. Each event demonstrated an increasing amount of anger and violence from both sides. The largest protest to that point occurred on September 5, 1882, when over 10,000 workers took an unpaid day off from work for an organized march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City. This marks the first Labor Day parade in United States history.

Though Congress did not legalize the holiday for another 12 years, many states passed legislation that both recognized the holiday and outlined regulations aiming to improve working conditions.

Over the course of time, working conditions improved greatly for employees in industry. Presently, companies and employers must adhere to a set of standards and regulations. This ensures that the rights of employees are being considered and that they are not being exploited. In a way, we take for granted the rights that all workers appreciate now because we have known these regulations for so long. But the message that our predecessors fought to communicate, and the movement that they successfully executed, should not be overlooked by us as a barometer for initiating change. The role of communication in achieving this change cannot be minimized. In fact, communication is the catalyst to outline dissatisfaction or difficulties with the status quo. Ultimately, change on a small or grand level can only occur from communicating these issues and from effective solution generating conversations.

Communication is necessary for change.

Wishing all an happy and meaningful Labor Day holiday.

Written by New York Speech and Hearing

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