WE?CELEBRATE Labor Day Monday, an opportunity for us to reflect on the many contributions the labor movement has made to add to the standard of living we enjoy in our country.
No matter how menial our job may be, all of us should remember that we contribute something to the common good. Work is an essential part of our lives, and we all have a responsibility to make certain we strive for and receive the dignity we deserve.
There was a time in our country when there were no unions. Wages were low, working conditions were horrible and benefits were non existent. When unions began to organize, that all changed and things got much better.
Today, our workers are among the best paid in the industrialized world. The many labor unions we have in our country and the various trades and labor organizations have made great strides over the years to improve working conditions and to increase wages and benefits for the employees.
It took a lot of hard work and sacrifice to bring about these labor unions. Men even died and others were injured in their battle for just wages and benefits. However, in recent years things have improved and instead of confrontation we now have cooperation. That is what is needed to entice plants and businesses to come to the Ohio Valley.
There are still a lot of challenges which must be met. The sluggish economy needs a jump-start. A big concern too is the fact that too much foreign money is being invested in our industries and too many American companies are now owned by those from Europe and Asia.
We look at our own Ohio Valley and we see so many empty industrial plants which once boomed and employed thousands of workers. Our coal industry has also suffered and many mines have shut down.
As we observe Labor Day 2011, let us recall the sacrifices and hardships endured by those who laid the groundwork for better pay, improved working conditions and benefits. Let us also remember that even though there are many difficulties, America is still the beacon of hope for people from all over the world.
The state of our workforce is strong and skilled. Challenges abound but we will meet those challenges if we work together - where there is cooperation instead of confrontation. Let our main focus be to improve the lives of America's working families.
Monday, we salute all American workers.
The U.S. Department of Labor says, "we must remember always that the vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known. It has brought us closer to the realization of our national ideals, of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on this Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom and leadership, The American Worker."