A Day of Thanks for the People Who Built Our Country

August 21, 2003
As the saying goes, a job well done is its own reward. But across Central New York – in stores and businesses, construction sites and factories – all of us reap the benefits of the thousands of people who wake up each morning dedicated to doing hard, honest work. Working people literally build this state every day, and for that reason, they deserve a day of thanks.

The Labor Day holiday was first celebrated more than 120 years ago in recognition of that simple truth. While some still debate where exactly the idea came from, we know that the first celebrations were held in 1882 in New York City, and that by the end of the 19th century, Labor Day festivities were being held across America.

So much has changed since then, but one thing has not: If it weren’t for the commitment, skill and drive of American workers, we simply would not be where we are today. If it weren’t for the construction worker who wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to get to a job site, if it weren’t for the teacher who arrives early and stays late so her students can excel, if it weren’t for the office worker who keeps commerce running through his ingenuity, none of the conveniences and innovations of our society would be possible. Those people – often nameless and often unthanked – deserve to know that their hard work is appreciated. On Labor Day, we try to let them know.

I’ve been working hard in the Assembly to ensure that working men and women get the thanks and protections they deserve not just on one day in September, but year ‘round. This year, we passed a series of bills that would be of major benefit to working people by:
  • Providing compensation benefits to volunteer workers at the World Trade Center site who have fallen ill from the contaminated air (A.8844);
  • Ensuring that an equal day’s work will mean an equal day’s pay, regardless of sex, race or national origin (A.6701); and
  • Increasing the maximum workers’ compensation benefit payable for work-related disabilities (A.6255).

I sponsored another bill that has since been signed into law extending protections for workers who deal with high voltage energy lines – the same people who helped us move past the blackout (Ch. 56 of 2003). On top of that, I’ve spoken up for members of the Communications Workers of America in their negotiations with Verizon and helped Public Employees Federation and Civil Service Employees Association leaders to keep Hutchings Psychiatric Center open. I’ve also advocated for sheet metal workers, and supported living wage measures, workforce retention programs and worker training efforts.

Labor Day comes around only once a year, but the contributions made by workers never end. On this great day, I join with everyone in Central New York in saying thanks to our talented, driven workforce – the people who keep New York rolling.