Happy Labor Day!

Celebrating Labor Day this year carries mixed emotions as we see the continuing effects of hurricane Irene in central and southern Vermont.  Amidst the emotional and physical turmoil, though, we can see the truly important values being played out in the willingness of both neighbors and strangers to help those that have lost homes, possessions, businesses and crops.  The people of Vermont retain their positive attitude and dignity regardless of the situation.

Another very important value we hold is the dignity of the American worker.  Today we celebrate Labor Day in honor of all the men and women who have contributed to our great country's prosperity through their combined efforts.  I would like to share with you some thoughts from Jake Perkinson, the acting Chair of the Vermont Democratic Party, because I couldn't have said it better than this:

Sen. Bernie Sanders' Labor Day Rally

"For more than a century, the labor movement has fought for landmark worker protections and benefits.  Many of the values we champion as Democrats were born in the labor movement and we continue to be grateful for their activism and leadership on behalf of working Americans.  At a time when the Republican Party seems dedicated to dismantling not only these protections but the labor movement itself, we cannot let this gratitude go unexpressed.

Organized labor, like the Democratic Party, has fought on behalf of American workers for the minimum wage, fair hours, just overtime compensation, and paid vacation leave, so that we all have the opportunity to earn a living and have time to spend with our families.   The labor movement championed equal pay for women and child labor laws, protecting women and children from exploitation.  They fought for healthcare benefits, paid sick leave, workplace health and safety regulations, and workers’ compensation, so that American workers can take care of themselves, do their jobs safely and are protected against loss of earnings if they are injured at work.  With our economy still recovering, we cannot forget that it was the labor movement that pushed for unemployment benefits and pensions to protect American families in times of economic uncertainty and allow American workers to retire. We must not take their hard work for granted!"

Sen. Sanders' Labor Day Rally
In many ways the economic situation we face today in America is similar to that a hundred years ago.  Wealth is being concentrated more and more at the top while those at the bottom of the economic spectrum continue to struggle.  What was once a robust middle class has been decimated  by lost jobs, forclosures, discrimination based on age, race and even unemployment status!  There are those who blame unions and government for the economic downturn, when the real causes have been the export not of products but of production itself from this country; when workers have been squeezed more and more by loss of benefits when they are "lucky" enough to have a job; when the very cuts that are being called for prevent government from exercising its role  as a protector of our clean environment, our food and drug safety, and the security of our financial institutions.

This Labor Day we should all unite to support the right of Americans to work and demand that government at all levels take the steps to break the economic stagnation we find ourselves in.  The opportunities abound to rebuild our infrastructure, encourage research and development and bring jobs  back to the United States!

Let's make this Labor Day the beginning of a new day for America!