Jim Carr By Jim Carr

September brings us to the end of summer and a transition to fall.  Last year, because of COVID-19, Labor Day was unlike ever before.  I hope you were able to celebrate Labor Day this year in some fashion.  This country has a great tradition of parades, picnics and gatherings honoring the history and contributions of organized labor.

I believe an historical perspective is in order because we need to appreciate the meaning of this important holiday. When America was founded, most people were either farmers, men of the sea, or involved in some related fields.  As people moved inland, people became more aware of how enormous America really was, and it was natural for people to choose other professions.  As the world developed, mining of the many natural resources of our country became a way of life, which helped build the country.  As technology was refined, labor took on a new face.  The more traditional modes of work remained, but the American thirst for innovation became prominent.

Labor became organized; unions found their niche in society; and there was a greater emphasis on the dignity of the working person. Labor Day developed as a way to showcase the backbreaking labor that made America strong, independent, self-sufficient, and the provider for the world.

The early Labor Day parades were made up of common Joes who went to work, took pride in what they did, were paid a fair wage, and reminded the country of her pride in her citizens.

Today, there is a tendency to forget about these basic qualities of our everyday lives.  If this COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that workers are “essential.”  Doctors, nurses, teachers, police, firefighters, grocery store workers, and all the dedicated public servants who work for the good of the public are indispensable and many have little latitude in where and how they do their jobs.  Many have risked and continue to risk their lives to help us live ours safely and to preserve our health.

I hope you find this article informative.  We all should know our history, especially the history of organized labor fighting for worker rights with a guarantee of due process.

PEF Retirees is not a union, but we are still affiliated with our PEF union. I am asking all our union brothers and sisters to join us when you retire.

Your membership is not automatic.  You need to sign up and pay monthly dues of $3 through pension deduction. You can call our office at (800) 342-4306, ext. 288 or go on our website www.pefretirees.org to request a membership kit. Current retirees should provide us with a valid email address so we can better keep you informed.  Send your current email address to our staff at rmango@pef.org.

Please stay safe, be well, stay informed and engaged!