“These are the times that try men’s souls.” Thomas Paine, a recent arrival from England to the North American colonies, wrote these words in the pamphlet Common Sense two years before the Declaration of Independence.
On this Labor Day, Paine’s words ring true. The worst pandemic in decades, compounded by a badly botched response to the pandemic by our federal government, that has left 200,000 dead in America with no end in sight. Record heat and some of the worst wildfires we have ever seen in California. For our PG&E members, a recent stress-inducing bankruptcy. For our public sector members, pressing financial problems for their employers as a result of the worst economic depression in decades. For our NV Energy members, recent struggles to ward off big-money interests who have tried and will keep trying to break up the utility for their own economic interest. Thousands of our members are working from home. Schools are at best interrupted, placing increased childcare demands on our members with young children. A traditional long holiday weekend with family compromised by the pandemic, by the wildfires, and by the fact that thousands of our members are working long days this weekend.
Whatever your political beliefs, whatever your background and demographics, wherever you live – these are tough times.
Paine went on in the pamphlet to distinguish between “the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot [who] will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country” on the one hand — and on the other, those who “stand by it now” and who “deserve the love and thanks of man and woman.”
It could not be more clear – our members do not shrink from the service. They are not summer soldiers – they are undeterred by the chaos. They will celebrate Labor Day by doing what they do every day – their critically essential jobs.
We have enjoyed tremendous success in political and legal fronts in the last several years. Yes, the political connections we have built in California and Nevada and Washington D.C. are important. Yes, the hundreds of organizing stewards we have who have worked on dozens of campaigns for politicians who support us are important. But nothing is more important than the hard work and dedicated service of our 25,000 members.
The staff of Local 1245 and I thank you. We are humbled by what you do. We admire what you do. Be careful, be safe, and be proud, very proud. Happy Labor Day, 2020.
–Tom Dalzell, IBEW 1245 Business Manager