Thank?All Workers, Past And Present

This Labor Day will be something comfortable and familiar for many.

Thousands of area residents will find their way to Bergman Park or Findley Lake for Labor Day celebrations. Some may start Sunday by participating in the annual Dan Feather 5K run or visit Cassadaga on Saturday for the annual Ducky Derby on Cassadaga Lake. All are wonderful activities that are part of the traditional Chautauqua County Labor Day weekend. Monday will be a day away from the regular workday grind and perhaps be a time for one final end-of-summer cookout.

We shouldn’t forget, however, the meaning of Labor Day. The holiday reached national status in 1894 with a push from the organized labor movement to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers. The yearly day off is a national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of the country.

That strength and prosperity was built on the social and economic achievements of the American workers those labor unions represented – the massive horsepower of Detroit’s auto plants, the rugged brawn of the steel mills and the work ethic of the heartland. The strength of the worker at the turn of the century was matched only by the physical peril workers faced each day. There was a time when the working man was physically harmed by his work – and it was the unions who banded together to make plants safer for workers and who made sure workers were paid fairly for day’s efforts. Those protections brought incredible innovations in safety that benefit all of today’s workers.

While organized labor helped create Labor Day, the holiday is a worthy way to honor the efforts of all workers – union or non-union. After all, the lessons of the labor movement are still applicable today. Those who have jobs should be appreciative of what they have, because things could always be worse. Our society needs to realize more can be done to make sure those who want jobs can find jobs. And, maybe those business owners among us can remember to do the best they can in these tough economic times to take care of their workers.

Happy Labor Day.