Today is Labor Day. For many of us, this is a day off. The unofficial last day of Summer. The last day to wear white under the "old school" fashion calendar. But in my household, it’s a little bit more.
Before my parents generation, it had been a century on Mom’s side of the family, and maybe more on Dad’s since anyone had gone to college. Grandma & Grandpa Young met in high school, had two kids very quickly, and were stuck in jobs that were not going to feed their families. Grandma & Grandpa Schultz were in the same kind of boat.
But they all ended up in Toledo, working in jobs where for at least a time, they were a member of a union. Grandpa Young worked on the railroad and got good pay and good benefits due to that job. Grandma Young worked as a cafeteria worker in schools, working her way up to running the cafeteria at high school. Grandpa Schultz was a tool & die worker who fixed machinery for Champion Sparkplug and later General Motors. Grandma Schultz was a switchboard operator back in the days when connecting a call really meant plugging wires into a different extension to make the connection.
Thanks to the good pay, and good benefits of those jobs, Grandma & Grandpa Young managed to raise four kids, albeit in a two bedroom house, sending all but my Dad to college. Dad, was depending on athletics to get him in to and pay for college and it almost worked. He was supposed to play football on a scholarship, but injured himself so badly his senior year he couldn’t pass the physical. Later the US Navy helped send Dad to college.
Grandpa & Grandma Schultz raised two kids, got them good educations in high school, Mom couldn’t go to college as Grandpa got laid off at the worst possible moment and she fell in love with Dad and followed him up and down the Atlantic Seaboard to Navy ports and bases as far North as Rhode Island, several times through Norfolk, VA, West to Pensacola, FL and South to San Juan Puerto Rico.
On my Dad’s side, several Aunts became teachers, and joined the teacher’s union. On my Mom’s side, my uncle joined the same local of the United Auto Workers as his dad. In his last year of life Dad was working for the City of Akron Health Department and a member of a public employee union.
So thanks to the good pay and good benefits that labor membership provided, every member of my generation got to go to college. Some chose careers in the trades and work as painters. Both of them have owned their own businesses. Some became teachers and enjoyed good benefits, maybe not always good pay. One cousin went to a top tier dental school and runs his own practice in the area. One helped run an office, another helped run a division of a major corporation, and I got to go to law school and marry a minister. Our kids generation have all gotten a short to try college, and some are working as nurses, etc.
So in the course of just a few generations we went from picking crops for a national soup company, to being teachers, doctors, lawyers, office managers, nurses, and small business owners. Not a transformation you said too often.
When it was my turn to pick an area of practice to work in, my choice wasn’t hard at all. Both Mom & Dad did work in the medical field. Labor and workers transformed our family. So something where I got to help out medical professionals and got to be a voice for workers was natural fit for me.
That’s why for the last 30 years I have been proud to stand in the trenches for workers, handling Ohio Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability claims for those who can not work for a time or ever again. But I also put my time and money where my mouth is supporting Labor through helping unions in actions and with advice on these claims and joining in actions with groups like Toledo Area Jobs with Justice/Interfaith Worker Justice.
If you enjoy things like workplace safety protections, the safety nets of workers’ compensation & Social Security, forty hour work weeks, weekends, etc. know that it was our nation’s labor unions who fought the fights to get us these. And when I mean fights, it was not just metaphor, many men & women died in clashes during strike breaking attempts. You can visit a memorial to one here in Toledo. And on the anniversary of that event we’ll have a post on that on our blog.
But for now, thank you to all who work for a living, doing the jobs that keep us able to enjoy this very blessed society. And thank you to all of the former and current labor leaders and members who gave us these protections and freedoms.
Areas of Practice
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