Labor Day is meant to recognize the history of the American labor movement and honor the workers and laborers that have contributed immeasurably to the development and achievements of the United States. Over the years, the message behind the holiday has become diluted with bigger messages of end-of-summer sales. Despite this digression, we feel that today, perhaps more so than ever, we owe a tremendous amount of gratitude and support to our nation’s hardest workers.
Throughout the past year and a half, our country has relied on the dedication and resilience of frontline and essential workers to get us through the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses and doctors have worked tirelessly to care for our loved ones. Teachers have completely revamped their curriculum to continue to teach virtually. Shops and restaurants have struggled to meet new health codes and state-wide regulations to be able to keep their doors open safely. So many of our workers across sectors never skipped a beat while transitioning to perhaps the most challenging work period they’ve ever experienced.
What had first begun as a temporary work from home situation has now become a permanent change to the way we work. This new way of working has raised a plethora of new questions about fair and healthy working conditions. When you’re working all day behind a laptop or checking emails from your phone, or when your home is also your office, when does the workday officially end? A recent survey conducted by Indeed found that compared to pre-pandemic statistics, burnout in all age groups of workers is on the rise. Over half (52%) of survey respondents are experiencing burnout in 2021, up from 43% in a pre-COVID survey. Among all respondents, 80% believe the pandemic has impacted workplace burnout.1
Aside from these new modern questions to work-life standards brought on by the pandemic, workers continue to fight for basic livable wages. Many of those who lost their jobs in 2020 at the start of the pandemic are still struggling to find work and support families on unemployment. In the current housing market as prices continue to rise, it’s increasingly difficult for low- to middle-income families to buy a home.2 Despite the unrelenting contributions of workers to our country’s survival this past year, we unfortunately see that workers are still often forgotten and continue to struggle for basic rights and economic inclusion.
At Amalgamated, we believe that all workers should be assured fair, equitable, and healthy work conditions, and have the right to collective bargaining. As a bank founded by a labor union nearly 100 years ago, Amalgamated has long been considered the bank for the working people and the union remains our largest shareholder. We were the first bank to develop strike funds that support workers who fought poor working conditions, and we will continue the fight for workers’ rights as new circumstances evolve.
Workers are at the heart of our country’s core institutions and are primarily responsible for the success of our economy throughout this period. One day of gratitude and recognition on a celebrated end-of-summer holiday is not enough. It’s time we truly prioritize workers’ needs.