Labor Day is a holiday most of us recognize. The message of Labor Day has been lost over the years, considering most people's explanation of it is "A day to celebrate work". While that's the true intention, the word work has taken different shape in this day and age. Especially when you consider the roots of labor day are well over a century old.
Many use labor day as a time to relax and enjoy time with family. It's not unlike most American holidays where traditions may vary, but the general goal is food, family, and fun. On average, 78% of Americans are granted Labor Day off from their respective jobs. 85% if you're a union worker.
If you do have to work on this holiday, even a good chunk of workers get some kind of extra compensation for their work. Yet there are still so many who work retail that end up stuck working on Labor Day. It doesn't seem like much of a problem, considering everyone has to work for their keep. But is this fact hinting at a cultural view of work in general?
While office and government workers take their time off, someone's gotta be open to give them all the fun day of shopping and eating they desire though. Retail is one of the few sectors that is minimally impacted by a holiday that was designed to give the honest working American a break. Yet most retail stores remain open, employing more than 4.5million(more than any other profession) workers.
Not all of these people are required to work that day, but a rather large number probably still do. These days, even union jobs are falling off the map. So how does this hint at a cultural change in how we view work? It's pretty simple actually. The only work we truly value as a people is our own. It's easy to say you deserve the day off for a holiday, but expect your favorite restaurant to be open.
There's a gap in how we view the value of the work of others, especially when so many jobs are in retail. As someone who has worked retail for a considerably long time, I can tell you the general opinion of retail work isn't a glamorous one. It wasn't uncommon to hear complaints of other stores closed on certain holidays. More often than not, these arguments come from a selfish standpoint.
There is no consideration for the retail workers it takes to keep that store open. There's no consideration for the fact they have families they would also like to spend time with on those holidays. Not everyone looks at it this way, mind you. But those who genuinely appreciate retail workers taking the time out of their holiday to work is definitely a minority.
This Labor Day, remember that work is required in all fields of life. Everything we have was obtained by someone or other doing the work to make it happen. That includes your local baristas, grocery store cashiers, shopping center clerks, and mall security too. There's a severe lack of respect for these jobs(including technical jobs), and I think Mike Rowe hits the nail on the head. Work has taken a much different view in our culture with the advancement of technology.