Dr. Bill Atwood

Appreciating the labor

By Dr. Bill Atwood

This weekend the country takes a little time out from our normal routine to celebrate Labor Day. It is a day designated by Congress to honor those of us that do the work in this country. Originally the intent was to honor the men and women who are a part of the union movements but, like many things in this country, it has morphed into a day to honor workers.

The labor unions have contributed a great deal to this country and our way of life. The 40-hour work week, paid benefits, pensions, worker protection, and higher salaries have come out of the labor movement. Unfortunately for the labor movement some shady characters have taken advantage of the system and conducted some practices that were illegal, or very close to it.

I prefer to look on the positive side of the labor movement. My dad was an accountant for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Before that he worked for the Pacific Electric Company. They ran the old Red Cars in the Los Angeles area until General Motors bought up the cars and scrapped them.

Getting back to the unions. In high school I was learning about the labor movement and the crooked dealings of guys like Jimmy Hoffa, and I announced at home one evening that the unions were a waste of time and money and filled with crooks. My dad, who was never a union activist, reminded me that because of the unions he belonged to we had a roof over our heads, food on the table, medical benefits, and a great vacation plan. He also talked about his retirement pension but that was still years in the future. He was happy with most aspects of his union.

I think that is how most of us think. We can’t really change some things or we choose to accept the bad with the good. But let’s honor on Monday the positive changes that the Labor Unions have given the American workers.

Let’s also honor the workers in our area who give great service, attention to detail, and in many cases for not a great deal of money. They have a great work ethic which also deserves honor from us this Labor Day holiday.

We have the waitresses and the waiters who serve us so well, as well as the folks who collect our trash each week. The servers at fast food places, as well as the people who stand behind the counters in the shops in this area collecting the cash while bagging the product and being courteous during the transactions all deserve our gratitude.

A couple of weeks ago I needed a battery for my car key. I drove over to True Value and discovered that they did not have the odd-sized battery I required. Denise suggested a couple of stores where I might find it, and knowing that I am worthless with tools she told me to go buy the product and return to the True Value store so that she could install the battery. What service!

Andy at the Oakhurst Jack in the Box offers great service as you head through the drive-thru with a clear voice and pleasant greetings. We even get fabulous service at the local Post Offices because those federal employees treat us as neighbors and friends in a manner different from the treatment others get in the larger cities.

Our lives are better because the folks who work here work very hard and they understand the value of great service to the customer. We need to remember to show our appreciation back to them and we need to let the bosses know just how great the employee was during our business dealings.

I get great service from Yosemite Smog and Auto, and my friends rave about Dan’s Auto as well as other mechanics in the area. The group at the MET Cinema gets our goodies to us with smiles and sends us into a clean theater. Their labor is appreciated by many. However, I do miss Rusty’s movie reviews which were very special.

So as we go into the weekend and enjoy the holiday at the lake or elsewhere let’s remember the great impact that those who labor have upon our lives. Be they involved in organized labor or at a small company we need to tell those workers we really appreciate their efforts.

Happy Labor Day.