Labor Day Dreaming…

What if we didn’t need a Labor Day celebration? 

Can you imagine a world where we celebrated the skills and sacrifices of workers for 364 days each year, and set aside one day a year to glorify business leaders?  What if the evening news led with a story about one of the more than five thousand workers who were killed on the job each year? 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 5,071 workers killed on the job in 2008, down from 5,657 in 2007 – a direct relationship to the millions of workers who lost their jobs as a result of the economy.  It is a national disgrace that so many die trying to care for their families, but we never hear about it; and that number doesn’t even touch on the 4.2 million OSHA reported injuries and illnesses in 2007 (latest released numbers).  What if the media worked to educate the public on these stories, instead of traffic accidents and corporate mergers?

“Those casualties are not just numbers on a chart; they are people – husbands, wives, parents, sons and daughters, friends and relatives – we all know someone who has paid a heavy price while trying to earn a living,” said Gary Allen, IAM General Vice-President.  “We can never relax, we must strive to increase the safety of our workplaces, and Labor Unions have always stood at the forefront of improving working conditions.”

Today, issues like the Employee Free Choice Act are critical to improving Labor’s ability to fight for worker safety.  According to Allen, “as the power of workers is increased, their issues are taken more seriously by elected leaders, and positive action becomes easier to see.”

As you enjoy the three-day weekend, take at least a few moments to remember what this day is truly about.  It is not only the symbolic end of summer, or the biggest selling day for hot dogs and beer, it is about much more than that.  Take a minute to reflect on what is important in your life, and how lucky you have been to return safely home from work each day.  Not everyone has been so lucky.