As we head into Labor Day weekend, we mark the traditional end of summer. The kids are back in school, the garden is starting to slow down, beach days and barbecues will soon be just memories to get us through the winter.
But let’s not forget the true purpose of Labor Day.
It is meant as a day to take pause and appreciate the people who work hard, day in and day out, to do all the things that make this country great. The people who make the goods we buy, the people who deliver the goods to the store, the people who build the roads and rails those goods are delivered on, the people in the stores who sell the goods.
It is a day to honor the workers, a day to honor you, a day to honor us.
There was a time when workers were exploited and abused. People toiled in dangerous conditions, many working 12 hour (and longer) days when there was no such thing as time and a half for overtime. Young children worked, mistreated to the point that many of them died. All of this was done for next to no pay.
Then the workers came together and formed unions. Suddenly business owners were made to realize that they had no business without their employees. The 40 hour work week was instituted, minimum wages were established along with paid vacations and sick days, safety measures were implemented and a minimum work age was set.
And the country entered the greatest era of prosperity we have known. The working class could pay for cars, houses and travel. Education was affordable. There was money left over to go out to dinner or catch a show. And the money trickled up, as the titans of industry made more money each year.
But somewhere along the way, the people at the top decided they needed more. As jobs were shipped overseas, the top earners made more. As workers’ benefits were cut, the top earners made more. The working class lost their ability to afford the things that drive our economy and still the top earners made more. Throw in some ill-advised tax breaks for people and corporations that don’t need them, and here we are.
Now some people work 2 or 3 jobs so they can afford rent or a mortgage, put food on the table and gas in the car. But there’s nothing left over and these hard-working people can’t afford to send their kids to college. They can’t afford health care. And those are the people fortunate enough to have jobs.
The wealthy and the powerful get laws written that favor them because they have influence. They write checks and their voices get heard. The rest of us usually have to hope that they decide to help us a little bit. We hear promises that something will trickle down to us.
If I get your vote, I will be your voice in Hartford. I will represent the workers, the people who built this country, the people who keep this country going. I will represent you.