Working men and women are America’s greatest asset

Published 12:45 pm Monday, September 3, 2018

For most of us, especially working people, Labor Day means a three-day weekend that traditionally marks the end of summer. A time for one last trip or a visit to the swimming pool for the last time before it is closed and covered. Perhaps, you’ll celebrate with a gathering of family and friends for an outdoor cookout.
There’s no denying Monday’s holiday is far removed from its primary purpose as a celebration of the American worker. That’s understandable, though. Labor Day comes at perhaps the most transitional time of year. It’s punctuated by a host of beginnings and endings. Attention turns to the new school year. Football games begin to count, and baseball teams begin their push for the playoffs. Election season officially gets underway.
Labor Day is a day to honor the American worker — including those on the job today, such as the cashier at the local Wal-Mart and the grocery store, the fireman, policeman, and nurse. And, among those who are enjoying the holiday are those retired men and women who have toiled in the past, some as factory workers, carpenters, secretaries, teachers, and a myriad of other careers.
The roots of Labor Day are important to remember and observe.
The first holiday was celebrated Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City and organized by the Central Labor Union. Approximately 10,000 workers marched from City Hall and around Union Square, then gathered with families for picnicking and speeches.
Some credit Peter McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, with first suggesting an observance honoring laborers, but others ascribe the holiday to machinist Matthew Maguire, who in 1882 was secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. After repeating the observance Sept. 5 of the following year, the Central Labor Union in 1884 selected the first Monday in September for the holiday and encouraged labor organizations elsewhere to celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” that day.
Thus, something unique happened. The American worker had two days in a row off. The “weekend” was born. True, it wouldn’t be until the Great Depression that most industries, prodded by organized labor and the federal government, moved to a 4-hour work week and a five-day work schedule.
For those of us who are working, it’s a time we should think about the opportunity we have to make a contribution to the economy of our community, to support and provide for our families.
Tennessee enjoys a low rate of unemployment, meaning most of our neighbors, who want a job are working. There are opportunities for education and job opportunities as never before, however, too many Americans continue to struggle with the burden of low-paying, unstable jobs.
The American worker is still among this country’s most valuable asset, and that’s something to celebrate this Labor Day. Be thankful for the men, who pick up your garbage every week, the crew from the local electric service, who are there when the lights go out, the highway crew, who is out on winter nights scraping ice and snow from the streets and backroads, and many others who toil to make our lives easier.
We honor all working men and women, who have built the country’s infrastructure, uplifted our economy, contributed to bettering our society and who do their jobs faithfully without daily thanks or praise.
Happy Labor Day!

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