Reflections on Labor Day

It’s Friday and the last national holiday of the summer is to be celebrated.  How many of us will enjoy a three day weekend?  That is one of the many contributions to the workplace that we are celebrating this weekend.  It’s more than sun, beer and BBQ – it’s about labor.

How many of you have ever benefited from one or more of these workplace conditions:

  • The 8-hour day Minimum wage
  • Health insurance
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Retirement plans
  • Child labor protection laws
  • Maternity leave?

These are only a few of the contributions we owe to the efforts of organized labor.

These days being a working stiff is vilified – “Workers” are ruining the economy.  But workers made this country great: They manned our factories, schools and hospitals, tended to our fields and crops and kept our governments working.  This is a time for change, but not hate.   Please take some time this weekend to reflect on the leisure, the humane working conditions and the employment opportunities we now take for granted and not forget it was people that made those possible.

We can fight for policy changes that are needed to reflect the economic situation, but don’t hate the people.  Ideas and people are different.  “Labor” and “Workers” are our neighbors, cousins, co-workers… I live in a town that is turning neighbors against each other by branding all municipal workers as evil money-suckers.  I am not a huge fan of unions, though I was obligated to join one as a teen.  I am a fan of what they afforded me as an employee.  And I am grateful for how organized labor reformed working conditions for unionized and non-unionized companies.  We now need to work together to make all our compensation expectations more realistic, but this weekend, let’s not hate.

While you fire up the grill, slap on the steak and have a drink, think about this: all those things were made by a worker who probably is a union worker and the safety and quality of the products were ensured by a government worker who is probably part of organized labor, too.

Happy Labor Day.

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