Whenever I think of Labor Day, I think of my uncle Pedro, who for more than 50 years, has worked as a foreman, building all sorts of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. Maybe it is because he works in a factory or because I have seen how exhausted he looks at the end of each day, that I can’t help but imagine Pedro’s face next to the definition of hard work in the dictionary.
Pedro is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and over 50 years, there have been numerous collective bargaining negotiations and yes, strikes. Often enough, Pedro pieced together odd jobs to help get by month by month as he and other workers went on strike to press for wages and benefits as well as improvements to workplace safety and job security. My uncle is near retirement now and I know that he is not only grateful for the stable job that helped him provide for his family but also for the country that made sure workers had a voice and could negotiate their own future.
This Labor Day, as many of us enjoy the long weekend with friends and family, I hope we keep in mind all those who have spoken out against workplace injustices and fought to protect our wages, health and families. Our nation is stronger when workers have a say in making things better. Say a prayer for or offer a thank you to the workers in your life.
Thank you, Uncle Pedro.