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Why doesn’t Major League Baseball commemorate Labor Day?

Sep 5, 2011, 1:44 PM EDT


Will McDonald of Royals Review has an excellent post today. In it he wonders why Major League Baseball can see fit to honor Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Earth Day and cancer awareness with special hats or some other on-the-field shoutout, but not see fit to give Labor Day similar due.

He admits that special caps are a rather minor gesture and that they’re, you know, kind of ugly, but says “so be it, I want ugly hats thanking and remembering the efforts made by millions to build this country.” In short, if it’s good enough for the Fourth and Memorial Day, why not our nation’s workers?

Sadly, this is probably a reflection of where we are now as a society. Organized labor makes up a smaller portion of the workforce than it ever has. Even a great many of the people who do the working in this country have bought in to the notion — propogated by those who profit from labor — that unions are tools of the communists and giving any lip service to the rights of workers is a suspect and even un-American pursuit.

But viewing labor — and, by extension, Labor Day — in such narrow terms is a mistake. Sure, there is an obvious political overtone to any conversation about labor. But as McDonald notes, people have died in the name of worker’s rights.  People continue to die on the job to this day and always will.  Against that backdrop, to reduce Labor Day to an extra day off and to divorce it from its original purposes is just as much a mistake as doing so with Memorial Day or any other holiday which has at its heart a noble and reverent inspiration.

No, red white and blue caps aren’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things.  And I’d probably still say they looked bad if they wore them today, just as I do on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.  But I would like the chance to mock Major League Baseball’s attempts to mark the occasion. Because if I had that chance it means that Major League Baseball would be marking the occasion.

Enjoy your Labor Day, everyone.  But remember why we have a Labor Day to begin with.

  1. addictedzone - Sep 5, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    To be fair, to properly commemorate Labor Day shouldn’t they give players the day off?

  2. kopy - Sep 5, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    Sure, organized labor as a whole is diminishing, but MLBPA itself is a remaining example. You would think the players would want to do at least a little something for the day.

  3. schmedley69 - Sep 5, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    Union man Joe West agrees and plans to protest the fact that he has to work today by doing a half-assed job, incompetent job.

  4. scastro87 - Sep 5, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    If it wasn’t for unions we’d all be slaves to the Corparayshuns now working 100 hours a week at the monocle/penny farthing/ top hat factory for credit at the company store. And we’d be GRATEFUL.

    How about the violence committed by unions today?

    “Several hundred pro-union supporters wreaked havoc yesterday at a Midtown construction site, authorities said.

    The irate workers, many from the carpenters union, were protesting on West 36th Street near Sixth Avenue when they suddenly got out of control at around noon, cops said.

    Several swiped an ignition key from a truck, sliced a tire, tossed a pole through a security shack and shoved the foreman, cops and witnesses said.

    Read more:

    • The Common Man - Sep 5, 2011 at 2:53 PM

      How about WalMart not paying or promoting women at the same rate as men, despite having similar or better work records, and not having union protection, and then not being allowed to sue for compensation by the Supreme Court? How about union bargaining power being essentially eliminated and middle and lower-class workers’ benefits and pay being slashed in a recession, destroying their purchasing power. It’s fun that this cuts both ways. I, as a union member, am glad that Craig posted this, and respectfully hope that you get bent.

      • scastro87 - Sep 5, 2011 at 3:02 PM

        “I, as a union member, am glad that Craig posted this, and respectfully hope that you get bent.”

        Ah yes, way to go against stereotype. Union members are always so respectful to those they disagree with. Those things were alleged against WalMart, but that doesn’t make it true. And they weren’t allowed to argue the case before the Supreme Case because the cases weren’t similar enough to warrant a class action suit.

        I don’t have a problem with private sector unions as freedom of association is a fundamental right, but I don’t like the tactics unions use to intimidate other workers who don’t want to associate with that union, and cases like above, criminal acts and destruction of property to try to get their way. I also disagree with the suggestion that unions are unfailingly good for the little guy. Remember they were used for a long time as a racist tool to keep minorities out of certain professions.

      • The Common Man - Sep 5, 2011 at 4:15 PM

        I know, it’s like I didn’t even bother to thank you after you posted some dickish anti-labor B.S. on Labor Day in a pro (or at least neutral)-labor post. I mean, you’re welcome to do that, but I can’t imagine you thought you deserved a “respectful” response. Douchekabob.

      • The Common Man - Sep 5, 2011 at 4:19 PM

        And as for the WalMart suit, what they said was that, for gender discrimination case, women as a whole aren’t a distinct enough group to sue. Which is hilarious, considering that women are the aggrieved party. Also, the decision made it not cost-effective to sue WalMart, especially given how long it was likely to take, given how effectively WalMart’s unlimited army of attorneys can draw the legal action out.

      • scastro87 - Sep 5, 2011 at 5:52 PM

        Ever so pleasant. Insult those who disagree with you. I guess that’s all you have. It’s no wonder labor unions get a bad wrap these days with people like you speaking for them.

        And this not the first time you have tried to scold me for disagreeing with a post. I’m not sorry I don’t unquestioningly accept the idea that unions are an unqualified positive force in our society. Maybe if union members weren’t so antagonistic to and resentful of non-union workers, there would be more sympathy. As it is, union membership continues to drop in the private sector and in the public sector, where dues are not automatically withdrawn, union membership also declines.

        And maybe I’m just an anti-union shill, but both my parents were/are in unions, my brother is, and my grandfather was.

      • The Common Man - Sep 5, 2011 at 8:09 PM

        “And maybe I’m just an anti-union shill”

        Finally, something we agree on! Hey, look, I don’t know your family, nor do I know you, nor am I familiar with the incident you found in the New York Post (which, of course, is the paper of record for world). If that incident happened as the NYP and the foreman claims (and, of course, who would dispute them, they have no reason to exaggerate), it’s clear the union in question was wrong. But it’s a long way between that and the notion that “unions are prone” to violence and racism, as you suggest in the comments below.

        As for the insults, it’s fun. And I don’t mind it. You seem ripe for it.

      • scastro87 - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:35 PM

        When someone has no argument, they resort to insults. I never said a bad word about you or even that unions are all bad. Unions clearly benefit the workers (at least temporarily) members of that union, but how long that benefit lasts and whether it benefits the public at large is another issue. But I guess when someone questions how much good unions do or dares to suggest that unions have done some bad things, I should expect the name calling and insults without addressing any of the points I made.

        It is true that unions stood as a barrier to entry for blacks in many professions and today they serve as barriers to entry for many young and inexperienced in favor of older and wealthier members of the union. It is true that union members have committed sabotage and have damaged property and threatened non-union workers. People should be free to form a union but they should not be able to force other employees to join that union.

        Common Man, please try to be an adult at some point.

      • The Common Man - Sep 6, 2011 at 12:15 AM

        Please try to remove the stick from your posterior. Perhaps if you hadn’t been so distracted by it and me telling you to get bent in the first place, you would have noticed the various times I did respond to your arguments. Indeed, I wasn’t insulting you because I had no arguments. I was arguing with you and insulting you, because that’s much more fun for me.

        It’s true that unions have done bad things in the past. It’s also true that small business owners, corporations, chambers of commerce, local and state and federal governments, and even just regular citizens do bad things as well. Such problems are not necessary endemic to all unions, nor are unions necessarily “prone” to them, as you suggest below. But taken on a whole, unions have been good at helping to build a strong middle class and make our country an economic and political super heavy-weight in the 20th century.

        But please, continue to feel aggrieved. It must be miserable to have so little humor in your life.

      • bsputnik - Sep 6, 2011 at 3:39 AM

        Unions are so great, that one is literally running the US Post Office into the ground.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Sep 6, 2011 at 7:16 AM

        E-mail and FedEx are running the USPS into the ground. That and the frigging corporations who are demanding that bills be paid online.

        This country is run by corporations and their lobbyists on Capitol Hill. Thank the GOP for all of their trickle.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Sep 6, 2011 at 7:17 AM

        Scastro wants others to be an adult when he publishes the musings of some Rush Limbaugh inspired anti-Union bullcrap… in response to a post about Labor Day?

        Up is down, black is white, and Scastro is a frigging genius.

      • Kevin S. - Sep 6, 2011 at 7:34 AM

        Managerial incompetence is running the post office into the ground, and it goes back for decades. My dad works there, and he’s far from a pro-union rah-rah guy, but it’s fairly evident to him that the priorities of upper management there are fairly out of whack.

    • bigharold - Sep 5, 2011 at 3:03 PM

      Your referencing the NY POST? Really? Not exactly the last bastion of unbiased journalism. More propaganda from the Faux not Facts crowd.

      When the story starts with; “Several hundred pro-union supporters wreaked havoc yesterday at a Midtown construction site, authorities said.” that should give you a hint as to what the starting point of their editorial stance.

      • scastro87 - Sep 5, 2011 at 3:18 PM

        It’s from the crime blotter. It either happened or didn’t. You can’t write off the event just because you don’t like the source of information.

      • bigharold - Sep 5, 2011 at 3:32 PM

        ” It either happened or didn’t. You can’t write off the event just because you don’t like the source of information.”

        Funny but it’s suppose to be from the crime blotter but there is no mention of arrest. Nor, was any response or statement reported from any of the union leaders, .. something that would seem to be a prerequisite of unbiased reporting.

        If you are going to attribute this to unions then you should know who they are, .. who heir leadership is and do ones due diligence and get their side of the story. That is unbiased journalism, .. something the NY Post wouldn’t recognize if it was Fed Ex’d to Rupert Murdoch himself.

        You are correct in that something can’t be dismissed merely because of the source. But, one should ALWAYS consider the source. And, this source should only be taken with a very large dose of skepticism. And, after seeing that they lived down to their usual shoddy standards, .. then it should be dismissed.

      • scastro87 - Sep 5, 2011 at 3:35 PM

        If you read the article it says, “The NYC District Council of Carpenters did not return calls for comment.” So that’s probably the reason why there’s no response from the union leaders in the article.

      • iranuke - Sep 5, 2011 at 3:56 PM

        Just out of curiosity, what did the NY Times say about the same incident? What about the other newspapers in NY? If only the Post reported on the situation then it would appear to be a very slanted story and dismissed, if the other local papers had something to day about the incident then it would depend on what they say. Only a fool will take one source with out checking for other sources.

      • scastro87 - Sep 5, 2011 at 4:39 PM

        And the NY Times may not have said anything because they have their own bias, right?

        The NYDN had this to say, though (though I’m not sure that this was the same protest)
        “The union is trying to bully 40/40 to hire union workers. They were shouting racial slurs. It was really inappropriate protesting,” said Lauren Menache, a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn-born singer.

        The union members used the “N-word” during protests and in phone calls to 40/40 management, said Menache.

        Read more:

        So that goes along with Unions being prone to racism.

        Here’s a paper on the subject:

  5. bigharold - Sep 5, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    “In it he wonders why Major League Baseball can see fit to honor Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Earth Day and cancer awareness with special hats or some other on-the-field shoutout, but not see fit to give Labor Day similar due.”

    Perhaps the fact that baseball is run by millionaires that see the profit is selling patriotism as with the 4th of July and Memorial Day and the monetary long term advantage of demonstrating compassion and progressive thinking as with cancer awareness and Earth Day? I’ll admit that I’m generally pretty skeptical but I’m not really big on conspiracy theories. But, basically baseball owners are entrepreneurs and getting fannys in the seats is what it’s all about. Also, the fact that the MLPA is arguably the strongest union in the world and has handed the owners their collective behinds every time they squad off absolutely has something to do with.

    The truth be told most of the holidays we celebrate seem to have more to do with a day off from work/school, store sales and doing a bit more drinking than usual than their original intention.

    • The Common Man - Sep 5, 2011 at 2:55 PM

      That’s a valid point, Harold. It’s also worth noting that many stadiums have set ticket prices to a point where working families have difficulty attending more than a handful of games in a given season.

      • scastro87 - Sep 5, 2011 at 3:03 PM

        And yet MLB attendance is at near record levels.

      • bigharold - Sep 5, 2011 at 3:18 PM

        “And yet MLB attendance is at near record levels.”

        Which has more to do with marketing than anything else.

        And, his point is well taken. I love the Yankees but gave up my season tickets due to the spiraling cost of tickets, parking and concessions. Rather than go to 12-13 games a year from my former 15 game package, I’ll go to two or three, get better seats and it”l cost half as much. And, Yankee fans are not alone in this predicament, especially long time hard core fans. Prices are being driven up not because the increase in hard core fans so much as the casual fan. These same casual fans will dissipate the moment that a team fail to be competitive leaving an unsustainable price structure; case in point the NY Mets

      • scastro87 - Sep 5, 2011 at 3:27 PM

        A few things:
        -I think people won’t go to games of a bad team even if the ticket prices are really low.
        -And if prices are too high to attract the casual fan when a team is bad, then prices will be lowered to attract more fans, or to attract enough fans to make the owners enough money to be content.
        -MLB baseball is making record profits so they are attracting enough consumer attention.

      • bigharold - Sep 5, 2011 at 3:37 PM

        Which may all be true, .. but it is also true that baseball is pricing fans out. more importantly they are alienating their core fans. Not just the Yankees or the RS but all teams.

  6. tuftsb - Sep 5, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    The Hall of Fame voters showed you what they think of Labor Day every time they voted down Marvin Miller’s candidacy.

    And why the hell is Jimmy Hoffa Jr. opening for President Obama and mentioning the Tea Party by saying “let’s take these sons of bitches out”? It is truly sad times for the union movement when management goes from Abel and Reuther to Hoffa and Trumka.

  7. jwbiii - Sep 5, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    MLB decides which holidays it wishes to honor. In the past, MLB’s relationship with unions has been adversarial. That they are not interested in honoring previous and potential future adversaries is unsurprising.

  8. sdelmonte - Sep 5, 2011 at 4:14 PM

    Thanks for saying this at all, Craig.

  9. schmedley69 - Sep 5, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    Remember, always look for the Union label:

    • jwbiii - Sep 5, 2011 at 9:44 PM

      You can’t have that one without this one.

      • bigharold - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:21 PM

        That is dead funny.

        Is that really Minnesota Senator Al Franken in the back there? I’ll bet that didn’t find it’s way into the election.

      • schmedley69 - Sep 6, 2011 at 12:17 AM

        Yeah, I saw that one on YouTube also. Hilarious. I’m a huge SNL fan, but I never saw that one before. I was searching for Raj from What’s Happening singing the union label song, but I couldn’t find it.

  10. dailyrev - Sep 5, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    Wow, just wow. This might be the noblest sports blog post I’ve ever read. I’m not kidding: this should be more of a holy-day than any other on the calendar, because what it represents is us, everyone, union or not, who works for a living. Yet as CC points out, it is given no more real meaning than another BBQ Day (my term for May 31).

  11. dailyrev - Sep 6, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    In which I praise this fellow for doing what our political class dare not do:

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