Opinion: Labor Day commitment to recovery and rebuilding

Tom O'Mara
N.Y. Senator

For the past six months, while we have all faced this COVID-19 public health crisis, one phrase has risen above all others. It bears repeating as we observe this Labor Day and honor our workers: Thank you.

N.Y. Senator Tom O'Mara

No single list on this page could ever begin to acknowledge every individual and institution that has made the difference, in ways large and small, for our communities. Nevertheless, I will take this opportunity to once again salute the front lines.

In particular, on this Labor Day, our expression of respect must go out to the nurses, doctors and other health care professionals and staff, public health departments, emergency services personnel, and first responders, grocery store workers, correctional officers, bank and credit union employees, postal workers and bus drivers, food banks, transportation, and sanitation crews, delivery drivers and truckers, direct care workers, service organizations and sewers of masks, educators, librarians, farmers, government officials at every level, the men and women of our military, an army of other essential employees and, of course, incredibly selfless volunteers—throughout the public and private sectors—who have worked around the clock to combat and control this pandemic, and provide diligent public outreach.

They have made all the difference. Their service has been remarkable. On behalf of our entire 58th Senate District spanning the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, I can only commend their commitment and dedication—and say, once again, Thank you.

Of course, Labor Day has always been a meaningful and steadfast day of tribute across this region, a region that has been built on and where we have long-honored, deep-rooted respect for so many of the foundations of this nation: agriculture and craftsmanship, manufacturing and small business, tourism and hospitality, outdoors and recreation, education and health care, and on through the anchors of the modern high-tech economy in research and development, and technology.

It is a remarkable local history of working men and women and a great source of pride for all of us.

We do well every year to recall and pay tribute to all of the workers across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes who day after day, year after year, generation after generation, build, care for, educate, grow, manufacture, protect and serve and strengthen our communities in so many different ways through so many different walks of life.

We are grateful for your dedication, your perseverance, and your excellence.

In 1887, New York was one of the first four states to establish a Labor Day holiday.

In its overview, the U.S. Department of Labor frames the historical significance of Labor Day this way, “The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership – the American worker.” 

This tribute is especially true this year, a year which has taken and continues to take an enormous toll on workers in so many fields but where American workers, here at home and across this land, have kept us going.

For me, as a legislator, it means that government faces a particular challenge and responsibility moving forward to help our workers and our local economies rebuild and recover. I know that I share this sense of responsibility with so many of the men and women I have worked with in government, at every level, to pursue the goals we have shared and collectively pledge to pursue now for the future of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes.

This work of recovery and rebuilding is underway at the moment in many places and numerous ways. I look forward to seeing it through. It will be a challenging road back to a better New York, to say the least. Together, however, I fully believe we can and we will find solid ground again.

Without question, this road back will demand a renewal of New York State government’s focus on and commitment to economic growth, job creation and fiscal responsibility – in short, to opening the doors to a brighter and stronger future for workers.

This commitment and focus has lost its way in recent years in New York—and remains at risk—however, I pledge above all on this Labor Day to continue working to ensure that it finds its place again in this government in the months and years ahead.