Happy Labor Day to the kind of workers America needs
© by Barbara Anderson
The Salem News
Thursday, August 28, 2014
“Labor Day, the first
Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is
dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American
workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the
contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and
well-being of our country.”
— The U.S. Department of Labor website.
I noted in a
2006 column that it was good of the unions to create this
particular summertime break, but they don’t own the concept
“workers.” I then took the opportunity to thank all the working
people who add to the strength and prosperity of this country,
starting with the members of the U.S. Armed Forces who defend its
well-being. No more honorable job than theirs!
It was a simple column, for simpler, more innocent times. The
economy hadn’t almost been destroyed by the government-inspired
housing bubble, leading to a serious recession that was close to
being a depression, even a world-wide event. This crisis led to more
government intervention that, along with the election/agenda of
Barack Obama, has kept the economy down for six years, with many
Americans under or unemployed.
In 2006, the U.S. Armed Forces were still strong and feared by our
enemies, who are now emboldened by America’s slow loss of its
“exceptionalism” to commit horrendous acts against humanity.
Also in the public safety arena, the police were, I thought,
well-respected by most Americans. I, myself, have never had a bad
experience with any police officer. But now we see what has
apparently been a longstanding resentment in many black communities
toward some police departments that seem to protect their own
against valid complaint.
Though we don’t yet have the facts in the Missouri situation, my
first thought is always that a police shooting was justified, but my
second thought is that it’s possible there could be a cover-up. This
reluctant skepticism is fueled by the local story about the Lowell
police officer who killed a man in a head-on collision while driving
drunk; Eric Wayne has a history of driving infractions, including
drunk driving last year, but is still a police officer.
Of course a drunk driver doesn’t need to be a police officer to be
gently treated by the court system; this was an old story back in
2006, too. Labor Day weekend is more dangerous than it needs to be,
because of certain lenient judges who put us all at risk.
Now to share some recent positive labor experiences. This week, I
went downtown to the Village Plaza to get Chip and me the lobster
rolls that I’d seen advertised all summer. He usually gets his
fast-food lunch at the nearby Village Roast Beef, while I like
Pizzeria Romano in the same strip. I’d never been to the tiny
Manhattan Sandwich Company.
Not paying attention to the time, I got there at noon, along with
everyone else; watched in amazement as one worker took our all our
orders on little pieces of paper, slid them down to the other two
workers who quickly made the sometimes complicated sandwiches, then
passed them back to the first to package with a pickle and take our
money. Because the employees were so good-natured in the lunchtime
press of business, the other customers were friendly, too.
This reminded me for some reason of the Market Basket dispute, which
I thought would be settled before Labor Day, and we could comment on
how well or how badly an employee-driven marketplace functions. We
still don’t know if Market Basket will survive and thrive, or go
under, leaving the rest of us to take care of employees who lose
their jobs and can’t find new ones in this economy.
I’ve been fascinated by the emotional involvement of people who
don’t work there or even shop there; seems to be some connection
with their own experiences with employers, or perhaps a nostalgia
for a long-ago America of family-centered stores that care about
their employees. I’d love to see the beloved Arthur T. help the
employees and providers who lost income on his behalf; that would
restore my belief in something.
I’m a Stop & Shopper myself; it’s friendly enough for me and
reasonable with my customer card and newspaper coupons. And here’s
something surprising I recently experienced: A checkout person made
another customer abide by the rules! A woman in front of me in the
“Fewer than 12 items” aisle (I’m impressed when any store’s sign
says “fewer” instead of “less”) unloaded a cart full of groceries
while the clerk was distracted helping the previous customer with
her debit card; the clerk made the violator reload them and go to
the proper aisle. Thank you, Miss, for your fairness to those of us
who carefully count each item before getting in that line!
I also like that Stop & Shop hires the handicapped and lets the
Salvation Army person sit inside in bad weather. It also lets
citizens petition on its sheltered walkway, as have Crosby’s and the
Community Store in Marblehead — and Market Basket in many
For my required August car inspection, I started going to the Citgo
garage between Vinnin Square and Swampscott after I met the Armenian
immigrant then-owner at a party. This year, one man came out as I
arrived to get my keys, another one soon brought them back and
collected my state fee while noting that he’d also sanded down a
scrape I’d been carrying on the passenger side, no charge, and a
third held my driver’s door for me while he filled the tank with
gas. These are the kinds of workers America needs.
Happy Labor Day, especially for all those who stand all day behind a
counter, treat their customers well and get the job done.
The comments made
and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her
column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle-Tribune newspapers.
More of Barbara's
Citizens for Limited Taxation
▪ PO Box 1147
▪ Marblehead, MA 01945