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Americans celebrate Labour Day weekend to honour US workers and their contributions to the country’s economy

Many union members now work for local, state and federal governments in white-collar jobs, not in the gritty factories where the labor movement began

FILE - A Cincinnati Police officer stands beneath a Labor Day fireworks display as part of the city's Riverfest celebration on the Ohio River, Sept. 6, 2015. Image source: VOA

September 3, 2016: Americans are celebrating the Labor Day weekend, culminating in the Monday holiday honoring U.S. workers and their contributions to the country’s economy.

The holiday has also come to signal the unofficial end of summer in the United States. Most workers have the holiday off and often celebrate over the weekend with family picnics and vacations. In some communities, Labor Day is the last day before the school year starts for students.

Many people on the East Coast may see their holiday plans dampened by Hurricane Hermine, which crossed into Florida from the Gulf of Mexico on Friday and began moving into Georgia and the Carolinas.

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The storm has caused weather alerts and precautionary closures along much of the Atlantic Coast, including in New York City where Mayor Bill de Blasio said city beaches will be closed for swimming Sunday — and possibly through Tuesday — because of potentially dangerous riptides.

“The number one thing I want to say New Yorkers is: The riptides are extremely dangerous. This is my number one message,” he said.

Labor Day in the U.S., held the first Monday in September, became an official holiday in 1894 after a push by the nation’s labor unions. For decades, cities used the occasion to stage large parades honoring unionized factory workers.

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Labor unions have seen their membership fall steadily in the past 30 years with the growth of technology and the globalization of the world economy. However, workers’ benefits —which the unions fought for decades ago — are now customary in most U.S. workplaces, including five-day work weeks, health care insurance and vacations paid for by employers.

Many union members now work for local, state and federal governments in white-collar jobs, not in the gritty factories where the labor movement began. (VOA)

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Americans Attention Shift From Gun Control

Americans Interest in Gun Control Drops

Gun control
A man wears an unloaded pistol during a pro gun-rights rally at the state capitol, Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Austin, Texas. Gun rights supporters rallied across the United States to counter a recent wave of student-led protests against gun violence. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) VOA

In the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, many Americans said gun control was the most important issue facing the country.

That has changed, despite high profile events like school walk outs and the March for Our Lives protests.

A recent Gallup public opinion poll found those who think gun control is the most important issue dropped from 13 percent, a record, to six percent in just one month.

Now, more Americans think dissatisfaction with government (23 percent), immigration (11 percent) and race relations (seven percent) are all more important than gun control.

Person holding a gun
A person holding a gun. Pixabay

Gallup noted gun control interest spikes after shootings, but the “effects have tended to be temporary.”   But the polling organization said interest in the topic of gun control remains “elevated by historical standards,” adding that since 2001, it has been mentioned, on average, by one percent of Americans as the top problem in the U.S.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2012 shooting in Sandy Hook, four percent of Americans said gun control was the top issue, a jump from zero percent.  Gallup said it remained high for a “few months” and even got as high as seven percent, but when Congress did not pass gun control legislation, the percentage of Americans saying gun control as the top issue dropped back to zero.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gallup found Democrats were twice as likely to think gun violence is among the most important issues compared to Republicans by eight to four percent respectively.  Democrats also saw the biggest drop in those saying guns were the top problem, dropping by half in just one month.

The Parkland shooting did spur the House of Representatives to pass “The STOP School Violence Act“, which authorizes $50 million per year to fund initiatives and otheThe Parkland shooting did spur the House of Representatives to pass “The r training aimed at enhancing school safety.  The bill would also provide $25 million to make schools less vulnerable by adding metal detectors, better door locks and response technologies to allow schools to notify law enforcement about emergencies.

The April Gallup poll contacted 1,015 adults, aged 18 and older, in all 50 states and Washington D.C. between April 2-11.  The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.  VOA