While this version of the story is a dramatic oversimplification and doesn't address the way that the structures created to fight oppression can themselves become oppressive, I hope it starts a conversation with my 7 year old that we can continue. Also, I will add that if the power relationships represented here don't seem realistic, then you should count yourself lucky for having worked for honorable employers. For the rest of us who have worked bad jobs, in unsafe conditions for employers who didn't respect us or listen, Labor day has a particular meaning.
Story by Matt Lumpkin
Poses, set dressing and props by Eleanor Lumpkin
The animals who worked in the factory made refrigerators. They worked hard together and sometimes had fun doing their work.
But when they were at work, they left their kids at home.
One day, at the end of a long day of work, the manager came down from his office to the factory floor. Everyone stopped what they were doing to listen to what he would tell them.
"What's taking so long?" he complained. "You're way behind on your numbers! We're going to stay here as long as it takes to get up to quota!"
The workers were already tired and were very sad to hear this though they weren't surprised. It was not uncommon for the manager to ask them to work long hours without telling them ahead of time. But this was a particular problem for the white rabbit because her babysitter couldn't stay any longer than usual. So she had to sneak out and ask her friends to cover for her.
He had to stay home laying down all day.
When they went, their boss just blamed it on the mouse who got hurt and warned them that if they kept complaining they would be out of a job. He even said that he would talk to his manager friends at other factories and keep them from getting another job from them.
One of the older cats realized that he would never listen to them until they did something that made him afraid he might loose something that mattered to him. They knew that making refrigerators to sell seemed to matter a lot to him so they came up with a plan.
If any one of them complained or quit their job, they could be replaced. But it would be hard to replace a whole factory. If they all refused to do their job together, then that would surely get his attention. They planned a strike: where no one would do their job until the boss listened to their complaints.
The boss got on the phone and made some calls to find out how long it would take him to replace the workers and how much money he would lose every day that the factory didn't make refrigerators. That's when the boss got scared. The next call he made was to the leader of the workers.
Labor day. From then on, new employees at the refrigerator factory learned about the union and the story of how they came to enjoy better jobs than they had had before.