Monday, September 07, 2009
It used to really bother me when people in my family suggested we go to restaurants and stores on Thanksgiving or Christmas, because I hated the fact that people had to work on those days. My intense feelings originally arose the year I was required to work Thanksgiving day at the country club where I was employed as a waitress. I was so angry that I was forced to serve rich people on a day when I should have been at home with my family that I'm afraid I didn't do my job very well. Later, as I have been employed by churches that have required my service on Christmas eve and Christmas day, I have realized a couple of things: one, that where I work is my choice, and two, that not everyone celebrates the same holidays I do, so going to an Indian or Thai restaurant on Christmas seems more ok to me now (but still, of course, not as good as eating a home cooked meal...). Today, I find myself thinking about many of the same things. Labor Day is supposed to be a nationally recognized day off, but how many businesses are actually closed? And, how many low wage earners need to work today so that they are able to pay the rent? I have mixed feelings about organized Labor. If every union operated like the University of Wisconsin's TAA, I would be more supportive, but it doesn't seem to me that that is the case. However, generally, I would definitely say I am pro-union. The Musician's Union has helped my parents' orchestra fight for a fair wage for decades. The struggle for decent wages, working conditions, and health care goes on. Today I'd like to do my part to recognize those who have to work today, those who earn minimum wage or less, those who work several jobs just to break even, and those who are forced to work boring, repetitive, or dangerous jobs because that's all they can find in this economic climate. And I'd like to give thanks for my fortune in having found work singing and teaching, and working in the office of a very hip environmental non-profit. Happy Labor Day, everyone!