Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor Day

It is often referred to as the Last Day of Summer, although tecnnically the "summer" season doesn't end for three more weeks. It used to mark the last few days of summer vacation before school started up again in September, but these days, school usually starts sometime in August. As a child, I remember the holiday being celebrated with family barbeques, a day off from work for my dad to spend with his family. Now, it seems it is nothing more than a holiday for shopping bargains, or perhaps a day at the beach.

Do most people in the U.S. know how our "Labor Day" holiday tradition began? I doubt it; I didn't know, until I looked it up on the internet. (President Cleveland declared it a national holiday in 1894, which was an election year. Meant to appease striking workers, the gesture was obviously politically motivated.)

Perhaps knowing the exact origins of the holiday does not really matter, because the name of the holiday says it all - its a holiday for the working man. It is a paid holiday for most, except, if you work in retail or the tourist industry or the restaurant business. Ironically, those workers, mostly paid hourly and with few benefits, often do not have this day off.

Technically, I have the day off. Realistically, I do not. Accountants march to the beat of a different drummer, namely the immovable deadlines set by the SEC. Unfortunately, my company's "quarter end" is August 31st, which means we work long hours the week before and two weeks after that date "closing the books". We have another quarter end on November 30th. I don't even have to ask if I will get any holiday off time at Thanksgiving.

The labor unions in the US have long pushed for a standard 8 hour workday and over the years Congress has passed laws that limit certain industries to an 8 hour workday for their workers, unless the workers get paid for "overtime".

Considered a "professional" (CPA) I am exempt from those labor laws. I am not paid on an hourly basis, but on a salaried one. I make good money...until you factor in all the overtime hours I put in. Then, I am not so sure that I make any more money than the typical factory or retail worker.

For me, at least this for year, Labor Day is just another day to go to work. (Well, except for the two hours mid-day that I ducked out to join a friend's barbeque. Just dont' tell my boss.)

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