Name: Swen Larson
Phone: (206) 465-8072
It is just before the start of the Memorial Day weekend and it is time for me to reflect on the holiday. We are able to enjoy our holiday because of great sacrifices made by the Men and Women of our armed services. They deserve much respect and admiration for their commitment and courage. Also their families sacrifice much. As a nation we need to make sure these brave men and women can find gainful employment when they return. Helmet to Hardhats is a program that brings the returning Veterans into the Building Trades Apprenticeship Programs to learn new skills for the job market. A small way to repay the debt owed.
Another holiday we celebrate in this country is Labor Day. This holiday honors the Labor we all do. Without that labor where would this country be? It doesn’t matter if the labor takes place in a farm field, a textile mill, on a construction site, a government office or a courtroom. Many toil to feed their families and for the common good of all. That labor has value and should be compensated fairly. All wish to have their children succeed and to be valued in society. I wasn’t born connected, fast tracked, or with a silver spoon in my mouth. I was born into a country, the United States, where dreams still live and opportunity still exists for all. Regardless of the class we were born into, our color or ethnicity we have a chance. That is why we have always been the shining city on the hill and a beacon for so many immigrants that are willing to risk it all and for those that are willing to strive for their goals. The striving is working hard and being willing to learn. Oh and to be sure some dumb luck has to factor in also. At some point in the past my ancestors decided to come to America and I am glad they made that choice. The immigrants come to this country and often do the work no one else will do. Often menial, backbreaking, dangerous and poorly compensated. What is Labor worth?
· Quote from Abraham Lincoln's first annual message to Congress, 1861 “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."
The reason there is a middle class in America is because of the work of Organized Labor. Only through concerted effort of people joining together can change be implemented. Minimum wage, child labor laws, a 40 hour work week , overtime pay after 40 hours, workplace safety, social security, all have been championed by Organized Labor and are just a few examples. Not only do the Union workers and the non union workers both benefit from Labor setting the wage standards, but likewise middle management. Wages are the cost of keeping people on the job, doing the work and are in fact an integral part of the “Free Market that Wall Street is so fond of. Or do they mean free except for labor. The groups who disparage Unions are disparaging one of the most productive elements in society. All the economists say the driving engine of America’s economy is consumer spending. Higher wages mean more discretionary income to buy goods and services and means more businesses prosper from that spending. In the end I believe everything works better if counter balances exist to unbridled wealth and ambition.