EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


September 2, 2013

Column: Labor Day is a time to celebrate work, and face economic challenges

Many Americans celebrate Labor Day, a federal holiday since 1894, as a day for barbecues, cookouts, family trips and parades, at its heart Labor Day observes the strength, hard work and dedication of America’s workers.

This is a day to celebrate. We’ve earned it. All of us, whether we work on a construction site or in an office, in a school or a laboratory, contribute to the efforts that move our country forward.

Yet even as we mark this day, we recognize that there are challenges ahead for New Hampshire workers and their families. And if we truly want to commemorate Labor Day, we must rise to meet these challenges over the next year.

Nationally, our leaders must address the aftermath of economic policies that have frayed the fabric of the American dream and enriched the powerful at the expense of the average American. As millions of middle class and low wage working families struggle to get by on flat wages and disappearing benefits, many express frustration that low wage jobs make up the fastest growing sectors. Others remain out of the workforce or underemployed, victims of a financial crisis they did not cause.

There is no quick fix to these problems, but there are ways that we can start bringing our economy back into balance. We can start by ending the so called “sequestration” cuts to essential government services that are strangling our economy. Hundreds of workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are struggling with furloughs under sequestration. Putting those workers back on the job will not just help them, it will boost the region’s economy.

Our federal government must avoid weakening middle class buying power by stepping away from their perilous talk of cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.

In New Hampshire, we need to address issues that will positively impact working families, improve economic conditions in our communities while rebuilding a vibrant middle class in ways that play to our unique strengths.

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