No parades, no picnics, and no pay for millions of workers. Unlike Labor Days of the past, the contributions and achievements of workers to our economy and society will be muted by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and pandemic-induced recession.
For many working parents, it will be a much needed day off of juggling work responsibilities and overseeing remote classroom instruction for their children. Yet Labor Day 2020 should honor the growing numbers who have lost their jobs and bring to the fore, the untenable choices workers face today, the need to lift up the voices of workers and rebuild worker power, and a deep commitment by each of us to demonstrate dignity, respect, and recognition in appreciation of all workers.
It should not take Labor Day to remind us that health care professionals who are no longer making headlines — doctors, nurses, EMTs, and others in our hospitals, nursing homes, and homes — continue to risk their own lives to save lives, working long hours under unthinkable stress with no or little time to recover from physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion.
It should not take Labor Day to shine the light on essential workers, such as grocery clerks, postal workers, delivery persons, warehouse workers, and others — and the public health risks they face each day as they serve us sometimes working long hours, unpredictable hours, and under conditions that depend on the public and their employers to ensure their health and safety.
It should not take Labor Day — one day instead of every day — to show our appreciation for all workers and the value they bring, regardless of their position, rank, race, gender, and other attributes.
And it should not take Labor Day to recognize the work we must commit to do as we rebuild our economy to create quality jobs that sustain livelihoods and respect and value the skills of workers, reducing the vulnerabilities of the foundation of our economy.
I am inspired by some of the progress being made to lift workers in the restaurant industry. Give a listen to my podcast, The California Table, to learn more.
Let’s express to all workers beginning especially with this Labor Day, deep gratitude for what they do and with profound understanding that they as any of us are deserving of thanks, acknowledgment, engagement, kindness, dignity, and respect.