Some things come and go, but very few last a long time.
Ask the earth about mountains and canyons – about weather, erosion, erupting volcanoes, and tidal waves too – and the world would answer that most things change very little and very slowly.
Existing long before most other things in life, there was work.
Labour/labor and man graduated from hunting and gathering to farming and enterprise – where you get someone else to labour/labor for you. And then there was slave labour/labor. Work is still with us, as is leveraging the work of others.
One day a year, we pause from work to respect and pay tribute to labour/labor. Unions are a big part of this history, but their relevance has shifted. Like monarchies, they aren’t what they used to be – and they don’t serve the same purpose. Now they mostly managed pension funds and complain about governments – but their foundation isn’t money or power or politics – it’s people who put in the work, often without much thanks, on which we rely.
This year, one of the most poignant elements of the pandemic response is front-line workers, first-responders, nurses, doctors, and people who work in hospitals and care facilities – they perform their labour/labor without fail, in the face of danger and inadequate supports. And yes, most of them belong to unions whose role is to fight for and advocate for them. I’m sure they do, though we don’t see them in the media much – mostly because that spotlight is being hogged …
To everyone who works hard, to everyone who feels undervalued, underpaid, and overwhelmed – we all owe you so much. Happy labour/labor day.