To the Editor:
“Louis Tikas Statue Unveiled at Coal Miners’ Memorial Park in Colorado” (Jul. 7) by Eleni Sakellis was so moving and emotionally charged I had to write and commend her for an excellent, well written report. Bravo, Eleni!
As a society, we are rapidly ceding the sacrifices those marvelous immigrant labor activists won for us during a century-long effort to expand workers’ rights. Schools are not taught American Labor history. So, we can’t blame the new generation for having no notion of the bloody chapters and tears shed by those very brave protestors who lost their lives in the struggle to establish basic human rights likean eight hour workday, taking the children out of the factories and placing them in school, forming holidays to enjoy family life.
Congress passed the Fair Standards Act in 1938 that established the 40-hour workday, not because they were anxious to make the worker happy but because of the continual striking and protesting thatcut production and profits.The American worker, finally, earned two days’ rest, by law! Right had triumphed over wrong.
But, the corporate world invented downsizing in the mid-80s and 90s where more productivity was demanded with fewer workers. Now, companies expect employees to be available on evenings and weekends. TD Bank now has 24-hour service. Why? Do many customers make deposits or withdrawals at 3AM?
Today, even with the labor laws in place,workers have to be constantly productive. One salary is not enough to pay those exorbitant rents, see that their children get an education, which in any case cause most students to graduate with enormous debt.
Is it any wonder that in the richest country in the world, there are 42 million people facing hunger daily; that 52,000 are homeless in New York State?
Now the president proposes a budget with major cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps, cutting the EPA’s budget causing our air, water and environment to be at risk.
Is it any wonder that the list of the 26 healthiest and happiest countries in the modern world, America is number 26? Today, wrong has triumphed over right and the blood that was shed for our benefit is slowly being obliterated. Will history repeat itself?
Phyllis (Kiki) Sembos
Phyllis (Kiki) Sembos writes the recurring feature Greek-American Stories for The National Herald.