Making laborers real Oxonians

Published 6:00 am Monday, September 5, 2016

When I was a kid, Labor Day wasn’t all that special. After all, there were no presents, no amazing dinners and no candy. Growing up in Jersey, where school begins on the day after Labor Day, the holiday was also a grim reminder the dreaded school year was around the corner.

As a younger adult, Labor Day meant one thing to me — double time on my paycheck.

On the rare Labor Day, I wasn’t working, I was working at a local festival the local Jaycees club put on each year, to which I was a member.

Email newsletter signup

Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894 as a way to pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers by giving them a day off — well, at least some of them.

Generally, all local, state and federal government employees get Labor Day off. Many professional and small retail businesses close for the day.

However, the service, medical, emergency and in most cases, the news, don’t stop and those people are working on Labor Day.

Of course, there would be no way to shut down the entire country for one day to celebrate the nation’s workforce. The best some can hope for is earning double time or comp time.

While Labor Day isn’t always the most exciting of holidays, as I matured I’ve come to value the meaning of Labor Day almost as much as other holidays.

This country was built on the backs of hard working citizens and continues to thrive because of its workforce.

In Oxford, the common laborers that keep this city going — the nurses, the cashiers, the police and firemen — are finding it harder and harder to live in Oxford.

Last week, Fred Laurenzo, chair of LOU-Homes, proposed the city of Oxford sell LOU-Homes about 2 acres of land for them to build 10 affordable homes that would be sold to lower-income families.

The Oxford Board of Aldermen will be officially considering the request Tuesday at 5 p.m. at City Hall during their meeting.

While I’m not saying the project wouldn’t make 10 deserving families very happy, Oxford needs much more than 10 affordable homes.

It needs a developer with a heart to build a large rental development that isn’t student-geared with a strict covenant and application process.

Some say approval by the aldermen would send a message that Oxford is willing to go the lengths to provide for its laborers. Some say the city shouldn’t be in the subdivision business, while others say the land is too valuable and should be used to expand city services.

Whatever the aldermen decide to do, I hope the city and other local organizations continue to work toward finding ways to truly honor our Oxford workers by showing we also want them to be Oxford residents.