OPINION: Thanks to unions for paid vacations

Pastor, Central Grove/Smith Creek UMC

In the next few weeks the question most will ask or be asked is, “Where you going on vacation?” Great question.

In the 19th century, vacations were taken mostly by white collar workers. Blue collar workers had to save funds if they wanted to take time away from their work. Late in the century the medical community came to understand the value of vacations for all working Americans.

Vacations in most European countries are a month long. However, most of us don’t have a month vacation; the idea of month’s long vacations was at one time promoted by President Howard Taft (1909-1913) who proposed workers be given two or three months a year of vacation time. His rationale was workers would return to their work with renewed “energy and effectiveness.” His line of thinking probably had white collar workers in mind rather than blue collar.

For blue collar workers who could take vacations, the Methodist Church, among other denominations, constructed campgrounds where they could enjoy time away from work for a week. The programs at the campgrounds contained a healthy dose of religion. Most campgrounds evolved into resorts.

With the growth of Organized Labor in America, paid vacations became part of the negotiations on the table. In 1941, the Pete Seeger song “Talking Union” included the words:

You got to build you a union, got to make it strong
But if you all stick together, boys, it won’t be long
You get shorter hours, better working conditions
Vacation with pay –– take your kids to the seashore
Thanks to the work of Organized Labor, vacations with pay are now a staple for union workers.

You work hard at your job and you deserve your vacations, but so does your family. Our children grow up much too fast and the season of making memories comes to an end before we know it.

My father was an AFL-CIO member and I can still remember the vacations we took. They were special times. Times of bonding and times of discovering our country. When my father passed away he didn’t leave us much monetarily, but he left us a treasure of vacation memories.

God made taking a day off from work a requirement for his people. And unlike our government holidays, some of the important holidays on the Jewish calendar are longer than a day. We are not machines. We need rest and we need times for recreation.

Vacations are just the ticket and thanks to Organized Labor, those times come with pay.

So where are you going this summer? Wherever, have a safe time and build memories for the winter days ahead.

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