It's ALL About Labor on Labor Day in California


In California, it's ALL about "labor" these days. While the city of Santa Paula celebrates the national holiday with a Labor Day Parade held downtown, many are certain to be working on the first Monday in September and others will be toiling away, looking for jobs. At the beach, lifeguards are told that Labor Day is a mandatory day of work. The same is true at hotels, airports, and state & national parks in California where tourism reaches a peak during the three-day holiday weekend before kids go back to school.

A little bit about Labor in the U.S. and California

Who's in Charge of Labor?

  • Hilda L. Solis, The Secretary of Labor, U.S. Department of Labor
  • Marty Morgenstern, Secretary of California Labor and Workforce Development Agency

The First Labor Day in the United States

September 5, 1882, marked the first Labor Day. It was held in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The day was modeled after a similar celebration in Canada. Envisioned as a "working men's holiday," the idea caught on and a national holiday was eventually established to be held the first Monday in September. Initially launched with big parades, several major parades do remain, though the holiday is mostly celebrated as a day of vacation, making for a three-day weekend and closure of government offices.

What is the current minimum wage?

  • $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009
  • Overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times their regular rate of pay is required after 40 hours of work in a workweek. Certain exemptions apply to specific types of businesses or specific types of work.

Working & Laboring in California

  • California ranks third most unemployed state in the U.S., just under Michigan and Nevada
  • 18,014,800 workers were employed in California in July 2011, down from earlier months
  • More people were unemployed this July in California than previous months with greatest job losses in the financial and government sectors
  • The highest job loss in the U.S. this summer was in El Centro Calif. where the rate was 30.8 %
  • California cities with some of the highest unemployment in the nation: Yuba City 18.7; Merced 18.7; Stockton 17.5; Fresno 16.7; Visalia 16.6; Hanford-Corcoran 16.1; Bakersfield-Delano 15.5; Madera-Chowchilla 15.4; Redding 15; Riverside-San Bernadino 14.7; and Chico 14.2.

Taxes paid on the fruits of your labor

Do you understand all the taxes you pay and who gets the money? Over 500,000 babies are born in California each year. They will grow up and become tax-paying citizens one day, unless they happen to be supported by government programs for the unemployed or disabled. Most of those babies will find work and will pay taxes. Here's a breakdown of some of the taxes charged for working in a job, buying things and living in a house:

  • City, County & State taxes - environmental fees, property tax on houses, sales & use tax
  • minimum state sales tax 7.25%
  • Federal U.S. taxes - income tax on your labor. Federal income tax rate 10% on $8,500 or less; 25% $34,500- $83,600; 33% $174K - $379,150; 35% over $379,000

Where do you taxes go?

  • Military spending and government jobs, retirement for government workers are largest expenditure
  • Roads, bridges, and infrastructure
  • Services such as regulatory for building, health & safety (fire, police, etc.)
  • Pet projects to fund a variety things that you wouldn't believe!
  • Prisons and prisoners -163,000 adults in the California prison system in 2010
  • Bailing out banks and financial institutions, stimulus packages, etc.
  • Community enhancements - parks and recreation programs, parades, city economic development, etc.

Memorable California labor moments & movements

  • Cesar Chavez formed National Farm Workers Association, to promote the rights of illegal immigrants working in California
  • California resident Nadya Suleman became 2nd only woman to give (live) birth to 8 embryos - babies. She has been coined "Octomom".

Where to see Exhibits about Labor

  • The California Museum, 1020 O Street Sacramento, CA 95814. (916) 653-7524.
  • American Labor Museum, 83 Norwood Street, Haledon, NJ 07508. (973) 595-7953.

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