LABOR DAY 2006
But lest we forget, the Holiday does celebrate American “labor.” In fact, Labor Day salutes the contributions workers have made to the power and prosperity of America (and that means all of us). To keep things in balance, perhaps we should also have a “Business Day,” because business prosperity is likewise essential for America’s well being.
Politically (and, as a politician, that’s what I have to deal with), I can tell you that too often legislative debate involving labor and management issues devolves into a “we-versus-them” power struggle of “you’re either with us, or against us.” Not so.
As an unproductive result, legislators are too often labeled as “pro-labor” or “pro-business,” as if labor could thrive without business, or business without labor. Personally, I’m “pro-issue.” Who sponsors legislation is irrelevant. As a representative, I attempt to look only to what I perceive to be the merits or demerits of a particular bill, and nothing more.
Neither labor nor business has a monopoly on goodness and virtue. The quality (and success) of a business is rooted in the quality of life of employees. Success in business equals profit; success in labor means appropriate wages, benefits, and working conditions. It’s nothing less than a symbiotic relationship. The goals of labor and management must harmonize, or both will fail.
Workers have only skill and labor with which to bargain. Business has only a place for skill and labor to be employed, managed in a manner that makes a profit that enables both labor and management to pay the bills, both at home and for the business. It’s a tough but essential balancing act. Compromise is required, or everybody loses.
Two quotes come to mind, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” (Frederick Douglass, human rights activist). “We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately” (Benjamin Franklin, print shop owner and businessman).
Happy Labor Day!