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Editorial: Celebrate the True Meaning of Labor Day

Town Officials Request that Residents Remember to Celebrate Hardworking Men and Women of the TOB

Labor Day...to many people, it simply means the end of summer, a day off from work, great sales at the stores and a reason to have a family get-together. The early observances of Labor Day were not about family or fun, though, according to Oyster Bay Town Councilman Anthony D. Macagnone; they were about improving the quality of life for America’s working men and women. The councilman and Town Supervisor John Venditto urge residents to remember the true meaning of Labor Day, September 6.

“Unfortunately, the true meaning of Labor Day has been all but lost, pushed out by its celebration as the last official day of summer and a day off from work,” Venditto said. “Councilman Macagnone and I remind residents that what labor has achieved in this country, and for this country, deserves all the celebrating it can get because we would not be enjoying the outstanding quality of life we have today were it not for the hard work and sacrifices of the American worker.”

The first Labor Day parade was held in New York City in September, 1882. Macagnone pointed out that there are two views regarding who first proposed the holiday. “Some records show that it was the brainchild of carpenter Peter McGuire, general secretary of the United Federation of Carpenters and Joiners and co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, while there are also records that support machinist Matthew Maguire, secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York, as the originator,” the councilman said.

“Regardless of who first had the idea, it caught on. By 1894, 31 states had created the holiday by legislative enactment, and on June 28, 1894, Congress made it a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. The establishment of a special day to honor labor made a statement to the world about how America reveres working men and women and their roles in society,” Macagnone continued.

“Collectively, the men and women of our labor force are one of the hardest working and highest producing groups to be found anywhere,” Venditto said. “Their products and services are an essential part of our everyday lives. In the Town of Oyster Bay, we have always recognized the importance of our labor force. I have often stated publicly that Oyster Bay Town government has a workforce that is second to none. From office personnel to sanitation, parks and highway crews, the level of competence and dedication is outstanding.”

Macagnone pointed out that the Town of Oyster Bay has shown its concern for workers on many levels. “I am proud to say that Oyster Bay was the first town on Long Island to adopt the Living Wage Law and the first town in Nassau County to require contractors and subcontractors doing business with the town to have apprenticeship agreements, as well as the first town in Nassau County to require applicants for building permits for commercial buildings 100,000 square feet or larger, and to provide apprenticeship programs. The town also has a comprehensive program to help displaced workers through the town’s Department of Intergovernmental Affairs, Employment and Training Division.”

The councilman noted that Oyster Bay serves as the administrative agency for the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program in the Towns of Oyster Bay and North Hempstead and the City of Glen Cove. Displaced or unemployed workers who meet certain eligibility guidelines can receive everything from help preparing résumés and honing job seeking skills to on-the-job or classroom training. There is no charge for participants. For further information, contact the Employment and Training Division at 797-4560.

“Without the hardworking men and women of our labor force, our nation would not have achieved what it has,” Venditto stated. “It is most appropriate that a special day be set aside to pay tribute to the dynamic and vital force of American labor, which has contributed tremendously to the highest standard of living and the greatest production of quality goods and services the world has ever known. On Labor Day, I urge everyone to take a few moments to reflect on the contributions of the dedicated working men and women who helped, and those who are continuing to help, make our nation a safer, stronger and better place for everyone.”

“And, let’s show our support for labor by using products and services produced in America by American workers,” added Macagnone.