According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s page on the history of Labor Day, we’ve been celebrating workers on the first Monday of September since 1894. If you’re interested in taking a look at some of your fellow workers’ experiences, you might want to check out these titles.
|NPR refers to Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do by Studs Turkel as the quintessential book about Labor Day. First published in 1974, this book is a collection of interviews of more than 130 people around the country about their jobs. Men and women from every walk of life talked to the Chicago radio broadcaster about their likes & dislikes, fears, problems and happinesses on the job.|
|Harlan County, U.S.A. is a documentary film about the Kentucky coal miners’ strike against the operators of the Brookside mine and the Duke Power Company in 1973. The dvd focuses on the hostile conditions that the miners dealt with — the threats and bullying — as well as their everyday struggles with poverty and black lung disease.|
|In Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line by Ben Hamper, the author recounts his experiences as riveter for General Motors during the ’70s and ’80s.|
|Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip — Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by Steve Dublanica. Based on the award-winning blog, “Waiter Rant,” this book tells the story from the server’s point of view.|
|Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams edited by M.L. Liebler. From the folk anthems of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie to the poems of Walt Whitman and Amiri Baraka, from the stories of Willa Cather and Bret Lott to the rabble-rousing work of Michael Moore, this transcendent volume touches upon all aspects of working-class life.|
If you’re interested in more titles, we have plenty! Search our catalog using the keywords “working class United States” or “labor unions” and take your pick!
While I’m grateful to have a full-time job that I love, I’m also grateful for Labor Day. Weather permitting, I plan to spend the day with family. Maybe I’ll ask my dad to tell me stories about his time working for the railroad. What are your plans?