Gardening, Labor and a Societal Ban on Wearing White

When I flipped my Old Farmer’s Almanac wall calendar to September, it greeted me with this quote:

Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job. – George Bernard Shaw

It certainly is a labor of love, at least for those of us that pursue gardening as a hobby and not a livelihood.  For those who truly labored long and hard before us, Labor Day is more significant.

We can thank Labor, also known as Unions, for the following:

1. Unions Gave Us The Weekend: By 1937, these labor actions created enough political momentum to pass the Fair Labor Standards Act, which helped create a federal framework for a shorter workweek that included room for leisure time. [reference, below]

Thank you for the time to putter in my garden and extra time to spend with my family, both the two-legged and four-legged ones.

tending the garden

Tending the garden

2. Unions Helped End Child Labor: “National Child Labor Committee” working together in the early 20th century to ban child labor. The very first American Federation of Labor (AFL) national convention passed “a resolution calling on states to ban children under 14 from all gainful employment” in 1881, and soon after states across the country adopted similar recommendations, leading up to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act which regulated child labor on the federal level for the first time.

Thank you for helping me keep my children safe.  They have the freedom to tend school (please ignore the whining you hear from my open windows) and the freedom to be home with their family.  They’re learning life skills to prepare them for future work, without sacrificing healthy lungs, potential loss of limb and a shortened lifespan.

learning leadership

Learning about leadership (no child harmed in the taking of this picture)

3. Unions Won Widespread Employer-Based Health Coverage: “The rise of unions in the 1930′s and 1940′s led to the first great expansion of health care” for all Americans

We’re still working on this one, but with the recent passage of the Affordable Care Act, people like my sister with a chronic, pre-existing condition known as Multiple Sclerosis, can rest a bit easier.

DSC_0007-001.14. Unions Spearheaded The Fight For The Family And Medical Leave Act: Labor unions like the AFL-CIO federation led the fight for this 1993 law, which “requires state agencies and private employers with more than 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave annually for workers to care for a newborn, newly adopted child, seriously ill family member or for the worker’s own illness.”

When I gave birth to my first child in 1997, I worked for an employer with fewer than 50 employees, so this benefit didn’t apply.  Still, it’s a big step forward.  I had to smile when I heard that Prince William will be the first to take advantage of a similar law in the UK. When my husband returned to work a mere two weeks after the birth of our first child, it was all I could do to keep from knocking him to the ground as he left home to spend 10 hours a day elsewhere.  I managed not to break the baby who is now 16 and taller than I am.

growing up

Growing up

On the sillier side of this important day, “In high society, Labor Day is (or was) considered the last day of the year when it is fashionable to wear white.”

With a pair of white felines and several pretty flowers still in bloom, we’ll be bending the ‘no white after labor day rule’ for some time.

mouse onthe sidewalk

Enjoying Labor Day

white flowers

Anemone Flowers

white cosmos

White Cosmos


15 thoughts on “Gardening, Labor and a Societal Ban on Wearing White

  1. Nice synopsis Alys! And I applaud you knocking the ‘no white’ rule ….. you wear that cat with pride and joy in so many photos that are surely taken after some Labo[u]r Day or other!! Those cosmos sure are pretty too!


    • Thank you, Pauline. You’re right: Mighty Mouse is wrapped around my shoulders year round. It sure makes me happy, too.

      Funny, growing up in Canada we used the British spellings of colour, labour and judgement. It took a long time to get used to the American spelling. When I blog, I’m also aware that my readers live in different corners of the world. I’m always a bit conflicted with my spelling.


      • I stick doggedly to ‘proper’ English despite knowing that many of my friends are American English spellers. I figure we can all make allowances for each others little foibles 🙂

        For me it’s when I want to use the word ‘lift’ as a noun and know it won’t be understood because your word is ‘elevator’ – or worse I’m going to use the word ‘rubber’ when it means something quite different to you and I should be writing ‘eraser’ …… That’s when it gets really tricky 🙂

        Vive La Difference as the French would say [I think] [My French is much worse than my American English]


  2. Happy weekend my friend! I’m currently replying from my Labour Day Weekend Holiday. Little Mighty Mouse is always fun to visit with here. Mr Mighty Adorable, yes he is. Does he have a war wound on his cheek? You did a great job relating your post to everyday life. Loved all you photo’s and humour too. (hi Sharon, C and M). Families have really been the winners of organized labour movements. Can you imagine the nonsense that’d go on without them?

    So ‘Hooray’ for Unions. It seems they’ve almost gone by the wayside in many industries. I was part of a Union for many years and they did a great job of representing us in a fair and equitable manor. When our company merged with another, the other company had way more employees and after a vote, their union was adopted for all. That union is extreme and militant and regulate things like ‘who can use the photocopier’. Within months, they were on an ugly strike. Thank goodness I was no longer there. Friends who crossed picket lines became enemies of co-workers and it was a mess. It became ‘Management AGAINST employees’. No more team spirit…sad. I still see a lot of value in organized employee representation though. Otherwise you are at the mercy of some FAT cat Board who answer only to the shareholders and care only about lining the pockets of overpaid executive.


    • Wow! You have a lot of first hand knowledge, Boomdee. You are so right: families are the ones who’ve benefited from improved labor conditions. It’s hard to imagine what went on (and still goes on, sadly) in developing countries.

      I’m sorry you had such a negative second experience with the union. I’ve heard it before, too. In some ways, the very organizations designed to prevent this sort of nonsense become too big or too power hungry, and manage to destroy the very thing they’ve tried to create. If *all* employers could be trusted to do what’s best, they would no longer be necessary. The current drive to raise the wages of minimum wage fast food workers (average age 35) is a good case in point. They simply can’t support a family on $8 an hours.

      So…I’m with you. I think we still have a need.


  3. I’m behind in my reading but glad I didn’t miss this one. It made me smile. There is good and bad in everything, including unions. Depends on how it’s being run. As for spelling, You can spell phonetically or leave out half the letters and I’d still read your posts. Our brains fill in the blanks anyway. If people want to get that fussy, let them read the dictionary for entertainment instead. I like the words anyway they are spelled. How lucky you have so much white in your life. 🙂


    • You are right. Not all unions are good and many are as bad as the organizations they tried to improve on. I wish we could find the balance in all work places so that everyone received a fair wage, safe working conditions, and hope for a better future at the end of the day.

      Yes…all that white fur flying makes me happy.


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