Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President: Labor Day.

September 04, 1964

ON MONDAY, our Nation will observe Labor Day for the 70th year.

In 1894, when Congress first designated this day, our labor force consisted of approximately 25 million persons--including children as young as 10 years of age--working, when work was to be found, 60 hours each week at wages averaging only 20¢ an hour.

In this year of 1964, we have reached a new record of 72.4 million Americans at work, laboring one-third fewer hours each week at wages tenfold greater than on the first Labor Day.

The greater gains of these years are not measurable in material terms.

The life of the workingman and his family in our society today is a world away from 70 years ago.

Then, in the lingering tradition of centuries past, the worker in America was a citizen of second class--often excluded, too often exploited, regarded as unequal, and treated as inferior.

Now, the worker in America is a full citizen of the first class--accorded a place of dignity in our society, a role of participation in our affairs, and a trust of high responsibility for the success of our system. A compassionate society cares for the life he leads as well as for the labor he performs.

Today we travel a road of well-being together.

In the service of our well-being, the American trade union movement serves an invaluable role. It was founded in time of social crisis to give the individual the strength of many in his contest with the power of the privileged few. Today, in a time of the privileged many, that movement speaks on behalf of the forgotten few.

American unions consistently advance and support programs to increase the welfare of all.

Such work is today the work of us all.

For if we have come far, we still have far to go.

Our purpose and our policy must be to create more jobs, open more doors of opportunity, shelter and safeguard the rights which have been won and seek to assure rights not yet secure.

On this Labor Day of 1964, let us as a people take pride not only in what we have done but in what we are privileged now to undertake.

Let us, in particular, continue to strive to serve the stability and success of our society by:

--assuring the prosperity and competitiveness of American enterprise,

--maintaining free collective bargaining as the basic means of economic decision,

--making the development of our manpower a priority piece of public business,

--and by increasing the well-being of workers and security of their organizations in all that we do.

In these times responsibility is required of our Nation in the world, but that responsibility begins at home.

For if we are to keep our commitments to freedom in all lands, we must faithfully keep our commitments to our families in this land.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President: Labor Day. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under


Simple Search of Our Archives