On this Labor Day, let's thank each other

By Tom Chamberlain of Portland, Oregon. Tom is the president of the Oregon AFL-CIO. In 2009, Tom contributed "Congress Makes Strides Toward Health Care Reform, Working Families Hopeful"

She makes my morning coffee. He teaches her kid math. You fix his car. And I fight the fire at your neighbor’s house, stopping it before your house is damaged.

We’ve never met before, but through the work we all do we are closely connected.

Monday marks a lot of things: the end of summer, the start of the school year, the beginning of campaign season, some great BBQs. ..

But traditionally, Labor Day was about celebrating your work, the work of the people who make your daily life possible, and the unions who support your work.

As tea-party politicians try to divide us and negative ads hit the air, we could all benefit from remembering the ways in which we depend on eachother to get our work done.

Work is the one thing that the vast majority of us have in common. More than we share any demographic figures, hobbies, or location, we all get up and go to work most days of the week. And if it weren’t for the work done by other Oregonians we wouldn’t be able to.

You may have seen ads on TV last winter showcasing workers, and the ways in which they depend on each other. That ad was part of a broader campaign to remind people of the value of each of their work.

It’s a campaign that is overdue, and it may be the only way we can get enough people to pay attention to be able to slow the attacks on workers across the country that are taking a toll on our economy, our social services, and our communities.

For Labor Day, we’re taking this idea a step further by asking Oregonians to thank each other.

While you’re celebrating your three-day weekend, remember all the people who are working to make your celebration successful. Tell them thank you. Or if the idea of a conversation is a little bit awkward, print out a postcard (you can find them online at ThanksForYourWork.org) and hand it to the people working for you – grocery clerks, gas station attendants, truck drivers delivering last minutes goods, firefighters spending Labor Day at work instead of with their families.

No matter your politics – whether you think Oregon should be Blue, green, red, or any other color – you can’t ignore the toll attacks on workers are taking on our country. But if we make work our uniting value, especially on Labor Day, we can ask people who work for a living to stand together against the forces who don’t seem to value the hard work that we each put in to our 40 hours a week.

Then, we might get somewhere.

Happy Labor Day, and thanks for your work.

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