Our regular readers (all three of you) will know that our commitment to American manufacturing is, in no small part, a product of our desire to retain and build decent jobs on these shores.
Certainly, we appreciate the company owners who have taken the unusual step to retain or begin production on these shores. But we also have a deep appreciation for the hardworking men and women who make the things we wear.
Today–International Workers’ Day (or May Day in the common parlance)–is the day when we pay tribute to working folks across the globe. Despite the American origins of International Workers’ Day (commemorating the Haymarket affair in Chicago), this country’s powers that be picked a bland Monday in September for our Labor Day, largely to avoid the socialist connotations of the May celebration.
Today is also also the day when we honor the ongoing struggle for workers’ rights. Foremost among those are:
- The right of all workers to a living wage. It’s a simple but profound imperative: No one should toil at a full time job and not earn enough to lift his/her family out of poverty. Poverty wages are a moral disgrace.
- The right of all workers to gather, through constitutionally protected free assembly, in unions. The past generation in the United States has seen both a diminution of union power and an erosion of the middle class. These trends are not coincidental.
- The right of all workers to adequate time for rest and recreation.
- The right of all workers to job conditions that do not imperil their health and safety.
These basic rights are violated with impunity in a number of countries where much of our clothing is produced, which is why we’ve become partisans for American manufacturing. Items made in the United States are much more likely to be produced in conditions that respect workers’ fundamental dignity.