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Instead of Labor Day, why not make Constitution Day the new national holiday?

Conservative Review

It’s once again the first Monday in September, and that means Americans are taking the day off, hitting the beach, and grilling in honor of all the supposedly wonderful things labor unions have done. But rather than placing so much public emphasis on Labor Day — a tradition whose time has passed — Americans would be better off observing something that takes place a couple of weeks later: Constitution Day.

Ostensibly, Labor Day is meant to celebrate the achievements of the American workforce, but it’s really an outgrowth of the labor movement meant to celebrate the achievements of labor unions. It was first celebrated on September 5, 1882, by the Central Labor Union Party in New York. In 1894, Congress designated the first Monday in September Labor Day. The holiday was later adopted by state and local governments across the United States, giving most Americans a three-day weekend at summer’s end — which is what most people are really celebrating anyway.

If you ask the average person, they’ll tell you that Labor Day is the symbolic last hurrah of beaches and barbecues for the year, the last day you can wear white in public (for some weird reason I never really understood), and the annual go-ahead for pumpkin-flavored coffee at your local caffeine hub.

This makes senseThanks to a combination of innovation, market forces, and union cronyism and corruption, the labor movement as we now know it no longer deserves a national holiday any more than America needs unions. What began as a movement of voluntary collective bargaining to protect the rights of workers has been perverted into a crony system where government-supported labor groups are able to obfuscate market forces in the private sector and bleed taxpayers dry in the public sector. As Amy Otto explains in greater detail at the Federalist, 21st-century America’s biggest obstacle to making a decent wage isn’t Snidely Whiplash-looking capitalist caricature, but rather the very regulations that the labor movement fought to create in the first place. Thanks to modern technology and market innovation, workers are better equipped to look out for their own rights, make their own hours, and negotiate their income than ever before in human history.

In fact, the freedom afforded to the average workers — thanks to the gig economy — has actually put many of them at odds with unions, which look to the government to protect their quasi-monopolies against the forces of competition, as in the case of Uber drivers versus taxi drivers’ associations). Local regulations are forcing ride-sharing services out of cities to the benefit of over-regulated, union-run taxi industries. Licensure requirements are making it almost impossible to start a small business in some cities, and ever-increasing minimum wage mandates are forcing small businesses to lay people off.

Ironically, the very fruits of the labor movement are now what is harming American workers the most. That’s hardly anything to celebrate. Workers’ rights based on the principles of free association and personal property are essential to a just society, but our public reverence for this dying movement is at best obsolete and at worst completely misguided.

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