Labor Day Holiday Message
Labor (verb, noun, or proper noun): Definitions includes, but not limited to:
- Expenditure of physical or mental effort especially when difficult or compulsory
- To suffer from distress or a disadvantage
Sound like a chamber professional's day?
Of course, there's "labor" and then there's "Labor." When the idea of a day celebrating and recognizing the American worker, the "labor" in Labor Day referred most to the organized, capital "L" meaning of the word. With only 13% of workers employed in union jobs, Americans have understandably turned the first Monday of September into a day for most of us who labor (not retail, entertainment, public safety, military, hospital, parenting) to take an end-of-summer day off. A good thing at the right time in the calendar. As I always say as we start a football season and ACCE program cycle - HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Below: A Labor Day memory for those with too much time on their hands:
My father was a proud "Kennedy Democrat" . . . a Buffalo lawyer/professor/advocate for everyone getting screwed. With a guy like Bob Fleming as my personal hero (always will be) I had what many conservative chamber execs would consider a harrowing upbringing!
One Saturday during my "tween" years, my Dad and I were doing errands and had to drop off some clothes at the cleaners. As we drove past the drycleaner a block away from the house, I asked why we always drove half-way across town with our clothes. He answered quickly. [Paraphrasing] "Because those guys are part of a chain that treats their workers like dirt. The job is hot and dangerous with lousy hours. They're in court accused of shorting paychecks and using illegal tactics to prevent a union. I won't go to that place, ever." Let's just say that statement had an impact on my choice of drycleaners.
Since that time, I've learned a lot more about how business and the employer-employee relationship works. I learned that boycotts can hurt the people you might want to help. I discovered that it's pretty hard to have employment without employers - and the survival of many (most) private-sector employers is very tenuous. I've changed, becoming aware and empathetic toward the people who create jobs and make payroll (like me). I still, however, can't be friendly or knowingly do business with an owner or boss who treats employees badly. Even in my most conservative days, as head of a manufacturers' association, I couldn't do it. Bob wouldn't let me.
Americans remain the most productive workforce in the world. It's not a Labor Day platitude; it's a fact. Remember that it will be our human resources that will craft the next great story of American resiliency. Certainly innovation, calculated investment and inspired leadership will be required, but labor -- "expenditure of physical and mental effort" -- by good people like your staff and your members' employees . . . will make the dreams of recovery a reality.