Good labor: Here's to America's workers -- and to more work

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Today, while many of us linger over a late breakfast on a holiday morning, a Pittsburgh police officer will cruise through Greenfield. This afternoon, when some of us watch the Pirates on TV against the Brewers, a nurse will check on the newborns at Magee-Womens hospital. This evening, when we scrub off the grill after what may be the last cookout of the summer, plant operators will be at the controls of Beaver Valley's two nuclear power units.

For them and countless others, this is not so much a Labor Day as a day of labor. But, on the job or not, America's workers deserve a moment of tribute. Some will be feted in parades across the country; others will sit alone at home, amid the quiet satisfaction of knowing that, five days a week, they deliver a job well done.

The two men vying for the job of the presidency have spent much time traveling coast to coast, telling voters how they would run the country. The words of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney may be true, but their assumption is false. The president doesn't run the country; America's workers do.

The high school janitor whose alarm goes off when it's still pitch-dark. The short-order cook who locks up the diner after midnight. The cab driver who extends his day and his runs because his oldest kid is now in college.

Sure, even the well-heeled, well-coiffed, white-collar workers make America go, but those jobs come with bigger paychecks, fancier educations and more luster than the others. The people who do the jobs no one else wants, or work the holidays everyone else gets, rate special thanks. And their work holds no shame.

If there is anything to be ashamed of in today's workplace, it's that there is not enough room for everyone who wants a place in it. If there were, Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney would have far less to talk about.

As it is, our struggling economy suffers from an 8.3 percent unemployment rate, which translates into 12.8 million Americans looking for work -- an amazing 41 percent of them for 27 months or more. That's too many without paychecks and too many without the daily dignity of going to a job, something many of us take for granted.

In a political year like this, the presidential nominees will jab and joust over who is more qualified to work in the White House. On this Labor Day, a higher priority is figuring out how to put more Americans back to work, anywhere.



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