Most Americans associate Labor Day with the end of summer, cookouts, the last days at the beach, and the MDA telethon. Just like Memorial Day, Veterans Day and other major holidays, Labor Day is just another day off unless you are part of the group it was set aside to recognize. While I always enjoy a good cookout and I know first hand what Jerry Lewis has done for kids, this year it is more important than ever for us to remember what this day is really all about.
While the actual origin for Labor Day is contested, it became an official national holiday in 1894 to celebrate the contributions of workers: from police officers to waiters, construction workers to teachers. This election year, 118 years later, we hear an unprecedented amount of rhetoric from Republicans that demonizes the very people who teach our children, patrol our streets, and run into burning buildings to save our lives and property.
The Republican nominee for President of the United States – the Leader of his party – has stated that we, as Americans, don’t want more police officers and firefighters to protect us, nor do we need teachers to educate our future.
“He wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
Mitt might think it will earn him points, but we know better than to put down our hard working Americans, working forty to eighty hours a week in service to the public. We know that in today’s world, we must not only maintain the status quo, but support stronger measures protecting workers rights, form collective bargaining to equal pay for women, to safer work environments.
This Labor Day, let’s do more than grill hot dogs. Take the time to thank a worker for the job they do and the hard work they put in every day, on behalf of our community. When your kids shudder at the thought of returning to school, remind them of the bright future made possible by the teachers who provide them with the skills and knowledge to succeed. Before you hold your nose by a sanitation truck, remember that they maintain the dirty job that keeps our streets clean.
But the most important thing we can do is to protect the jobs and rights of workers across the state and the country. To do that, we must start by supporting candidates who will fight to ensure our forward momentum as a country and not send us back to 1894.
Romney, Ryan, and Brown will strike hard against workers if elected, and repeal the many advances of the past four years, and even the past decades. Our society needs leaders who will lift up workers, not tear them down.
As voters, we have a big decision this November and this national holiday celebrating workers is a reminder of what is at stake. We need to elect Elizabeth Warren to the US Senate, and re-elect President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as they have shown us they know their responsibility to the backbone of America. They have our backs; be sure to have theirs!
Jeremy J. Comeau, Labor Caucus Chairman
Young Democrats of Massachusetts