Last Friday, as we were going into the Labor Day holiday weekend, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce was concluding its annual conference at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs. Addressing attendees, Steve Roberts, President of the West Virginia Chamber, stated: “We are committed to bringing positive change to our state and using all our resources to enrich the lives of those who live here as well as those who are exploring the possibility of relocating to the Mountain State. This is the chamber’s vision for 2020 and beyond.”
I know Mr. Robert’s vision is shared by many around our state. Locally, we must be about sharing the same vision. There are a lot of good things going on in our state and locally.
But, we have an elephant in the room.
The obvious concern that we don’t talk much about is our workforce. This is an issue that must be addressed if our economy is to grow. Every place I go there are signs that read: “Help Wanted!”
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated September 5, 1882 in New York City when thousands of citizens marched for labor rights. At that time, the average American worker put in 12 hour days and worked six days a week.
On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a law making the first Monday in September a national holiday.
On September 3, 1916, the Adamson Act established the eight-hour work day.
Labor Day is more than just a long weekend. Its intent is to celebrate laborers and the value of work.
That brings us the question: “What has changed in the last forty years?”
Many core values have been mostly removed from the workplace. The new age sees work as just a paycheck, rather than a path which guides individuals to their life’s goal. Few understand work to be a way to grow as an individual. Fewer still consider work as a way to serve God or be a contributing member of society.
Deep within the American spirit was once the Puritan work ethic. It placed a high moral value on doing a good job. More to the point was doing your best as “unto the Lord.”
There is no desire in the independent spirit to simply exist on government handouts. The premier objective in life should not be to see how much work can be avoided.
There is currently a plan underway to bring public transit to Marlinton and Pocahontas County. The primary goal is to get people to work.
Ironically, the first obstacle is finding and hiring two drivers.