I don’t know much about the history of the labor movement here in the United States, but I can certainly offer reflections on how I got to be Where I Am in my life. And two major factors that got me here are, without a doubt, Opportunity and Luck.
I’ve been laid off from jobs, I’ve been fired from jobs (“Are you firing me or laying me off?” “Well, you’re not good at your job, but we really like you, so it’s a bit of both.”), and I’ve quit jobs with and without notice. The job I have now I got primarily through some luck and some effort. No formal interview or resume/application process was involved because it started as a temp job. I had worked hard to learn Linux and shell scripting and PHP; but I also had a previous job that gave me the opportunity to learn those things while not working on formally-assigned tasks.
I had a good college education, and I was lucky to have that opportunity. I was lucky — though that word is problematic for reasons I won’t go into here — that I could pay for my education without having to take out some serious loans.
In my time, especially in one particular job (that I quit with only two days’ notice), I’ve met with literally hundreds of people who for various degrees of misfortune of birth or just plain bad luck, had no such opportunities.
I’m well aware that I speak from a position of privilege. I’m also well aware that the current administration is pathologically determined to dismantle the structures of opportunity that have been put in place for women and minorities and low income people over the years.
So this Labor Day, in between the barbecues and sleeping in and what-not, remember that there have been and continue to be people who for whatever reason are in a “bad place”, employment-wise, and who are struggling for justice for themselves and for others.