Labor Day in an election year takes on an entirely different character.
Its celebration this year in the middle of the two national political conventions will be, more than ever, filled with political speeches and commentary. The Republicans carry fresh momentum from their Tampa convention while the Democrats prepare to crank things up in Charlotte, N.C.
Local picnics will feature lots of stump speeches. And the politicians will be out in full force at the parades.
But let’s not allow politics to overshadow the true meaning of this day. Labor Day is a time to salute the American worker.
With a history steeped in the country’s labor movement of the late 1800s, the national holiday has broadened over the years to acknowledge the accomplishments of all workers.
And here in the Quad-Cities, we have a lot to cheer about.
A traditionally strong workforce distinguishes our community in the minds of business leaders who expand or relocate in our region.
“The strength of the Quad-Cities workforce remains one of the region’s major assets, and many local employers have the potential for growth,” is the word from the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce in its August Business Connections report.
Those attending the Chamber’s annual meeting on Thursday heard a pep talk from Richard Bendis, president and CEO of Innovation America, about the potential for the region to grow its presence on the global stage.
But it will take a nonstop dose of innovative and strategic thinking and the ability to match the workforce to the types of jobs that will be available in the future. Much of that is going on every day at institutions like Scott Community College and Black Hawk College, which are geared to adapt quickly to the changing needs of businesses, both existing and those interested in locating here.
The Q-C’s largest employer, the Rock Island Arsenal, has been a prime example in its 150-year history of adapting a workforce to meet the defense needs of our country. Both blue-collar and white-collar workers have carried the torch, as they do in businesses throughout the region.
We’ll be hearing a lot in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 election about the need for more jobs. We hope the rhetoric is matched by specific plans to meet that need.
In the meantime, we salute those who fill the jobs in the Quad-Cities that drive our economy in all sectors, from manufacturing to retail, government to service, technology to construction and everything in between.
Happy Labor Day.