Labor Day, as a meaningful and impactful holiday, has been stolen from us. But the new labor movement in the United States could take the bold move and steal the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday. We could rename it Labor’s Day.
In case you didn’t catch that, for lack of coffee or bad eyesight (I’m getting glasses for the very first time this week), I’ve added an apostrophe to my proposed holiday. Let us be proud and call it Labor’s Day. We will own it. We will operate it. And we will call the shots. We don’t need an official holiday. We’re going to steal Black Friday right out from under the greedy clutches of corporate America and make it our own. At least, that’s what I’m calling for. The alternative is keeping Black Friday (admittedly a sexier name) and change the meaning – the same way they hijacked Labor Day.
“The front line is everywhere,” Rage Against the Machine’s Zach de la Rocha declares in “No Shelter”. The song talks about blind consumerism and entertainment as weapons of distraction. The front line refers to the imposition of the corporate-security state’s will in our everyday lives. The front line of the labor movement’s struggle for worker rights has certainly been painfully ineffective the past 40 years, but a new trend is taking shape.
Much like the iconic progression of primordial life crawling out from the sea and evolving in a series of images to a full-fledged homo sapien, the new labor movement is claiming new grounds in its fight to evolve and establish itself once more as a human enterprise. They’re doing it in the fast food industry. They’re doing it at the nation’s number one employer, Wal-Mart.
What will it take to steal or hijack Black Friday? Massive protests every Black Friday and strong public support. It will take intelligent (and snarky!) social and independent media campaigns. It will take meaningful participation of a great number of people and their annual commitment for several years, maybe even decades. More importantly, it will take a great deal of empathy to understand the plight of our service industry workers.
Many more of the public will have to be made aware that “union” isn’t a dirty word. There are dirty unions, yes, and corrupt and incompetent ones whose leaders have sold out their members while sitting on their bulbous asses collecting comfortable salaries, but remember – they’re only as good as the fire lit beneath their feet, and the battle to restore respect for unions and unionizing must continue to be fought in the name of workers rights and living wages for all.
Seizing Black Friday would extend the front line of worker solidarity to the holiday season and disrupt the business-as-usual zeitgeist. The message would be positive. The effects could be deeply profound. And the new battle cry wouldn’t be bad either for lovers of Latin: Carpe Niger Veneris!
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