Person Asks The Internet “Can Someone Tell Me Why I’m Working On Labor Day?” And People Chime In
Ah, Labor Day. A long weekend to celebrate the unofficial end to summer with picnics, barbecues, parades, and, of course, an extra day off. Behind the annual buzz lies a rich history of honoring American workers and their fight for fair working conditions. This holiday marks the contributions that employees — whether in offices, restaurants, or stores — have made to the nation and its society. But while many enjoy and commemorate this milestone with much-needed time off, not everyone joins in on the fun.
There’s a common misconception that a national holiday means everyone gets a well-deserved break. But in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. This myth has been at the center of a heated online debate after Redditor GoldenBull1994 reached out to the ‘AntiWork’ community with the very question: “Can someone tell me why I’m working on Labor Day?”
The user raised several points about the irony that the one day meant to celebrate workers doesn’t actually respect labor. Immediately, the post caused quite a stir on the platform, prompting people to jump at the chance to share their opinions on the matter. Scroll down to read the post in full, as well as the reactions that followed, and be sure to weigh in on the discussion in the comments!
After being forced to work on Labor Day, an employee sparked an online debate after claiming this holiday doesn’t seem to celebrate working people anymore
Image credits: Pavel Danilyuk (not the actual photo)
Image credits: Kevin McCartney (not the actual photo)
Image credits: GoldenBull1994
We managed to get in touch with Redditor GoldenBull1994, Jeremy, who was kind enough to have a chat with us about his story. Jeremy revealed the idea to share this post on ‘AntiWork’ came out of frustration. “My job is very labor intensive. Enough so that it becomes back-breaking,” he told Bored Panda.
“For me and millions of others in the service industry, work IS their lives, not just a PART of their lives as I feel it should be — especially since, most often, they work for the sake of achieving someone else’s goals, namely the goals of shareholders and CEO’s.”
Jeremy explained that during Labor Day weekend, his workplace was busier than usual, and they were short-staffed. “We have a situation where not only is this supposed holiday for workers spent working, but it is actually spent getting up hours before sunrise to work even harder than usual. On Labor Day. The day that’s supposed to be about us.” This injustice inspired him to reach out to the ‘AntiWork’ community to see if others were feeling the same way.
However, Jeremy didn’t expect the post to blow up as much as it did. “It was, on the one hand, really interesting to see, and a little heart-warming. On the other hand, it was somewhat shocking to see so many on that sub respond and act with little compassion.”
“People are breaking their backs doing this work for others and to serve others, and I thought it would be more common knowledge that there isn’t always a choice in the matter. ‘Just get a different job.’ ‘Just take the day off.’ ‘You’re in this situation because you don’t work hard enough (hah!),'” he added.
According to the US Department of Labor, Labor Day was first started unofficially by labor activists and individual states who set out to fight for specific improvements in their working conditions in the late 1800s. Even with the looming threat of being fired for participating in the events, workers aimed to get recognition for the many contributions they have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the US.
Well, from the deluge of comments and reactions the post in question received, Labor Day seems to have lost its spirit. For those who work diligently to keep everyone safe, powered, connected, and taken care of, there is no such thing as a holiday. Many employees across the country, particularly service workers, feel sick and tired of being left behind as people celebrate this day honoring workers. So no wonder they see the irony that some of our hardest-working Americans are still required to continue their duties on Labor Day.
But Jeremy asked, “How can something that was never celebrated properly have that spirit in the first place? Regardless of its history as a day that many people say is to distract from International Workers’ Day (May 1st), the point still stands that the message is in the title of the holiday itself.”
“A day that is perceived by the public to be designated as a day for workers, should actually be a day for workers. Period. End of discussion.” But Jeremy did not feel celebrated at all. “Labor day feels like a holiday that celebrates everyone except Labor. Labor actually works twice as hard for them on this day. Only some of the workforce is off. Can we really call that Labor Day?”
But even when Labor Day is proclaimed an official holiday, this doesn’t mean much. See, there is no labor law mandating private companies and even some government agencies to give this or any other day off. Plus, employers who choose to give workers the day off are not required to pay them for the day. As the U.S. Department of Labor states, “The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require payment for time not worked, such as vacations or holidays (federal or otherwise). These benefits are generally a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee (or the employee’s representative).”
Unfortunately, the author of this post feels no real action can be taken to change this situation apart from workers protesting and standing up for their rights. “But with the way Antiwork has responded being somewhat split in my admittedly anecdotal experience, and with the idea that Labor Day already sees millions of people (who aren’t working with their hands) off, I don’t see a movement or any will to change Labor Day forming anytime soon.”
“Most people aren’t able or willing to see the problem,” he added. “Even among workers, there is split opinion, especially since some of us get paid time and a half for the day. What would have to happen is that we appeal to the people this story does resonate with and build the idea or movement from there.”
Ultimately, Jeremy advised workers to “do what you have to do”. “But, within the bounds of being able to keep your job, try not to take abuse either. Learn the law, learn your rights, and consider the options you do have, as limited as they may or may not be. If there are no options, try to think of ways you and your co-workers could change the situation so that you do have options in the future.”
“The idea of this post was to get people thinking about the irony of how we have to break our backs extra hard to serve others who don’t understand the toll of a work-life balance that’s, well, not balanced,” he concluded.