Most people never really think about the significance of Labor Day. It has always just been another day off—either from school or from the daily grind of our jobs. If you stop and think about it, the average person spends more time awake at work (8-plus hours a day, five days a week at least) than they do at home. Knowing this, we really should stop and think about the importance of labor, not just in our own lives but in the life of our community.
My maternal grandfather, Frank Kocyan Jr., spent more than 50 years as an electrician. He first started working as part of, and later taking over, the electrical contracting business founded by his father. My grandfather spent hours working on the wiring in countless row homes throughout the Polish immigrant communities of Canton and Fells Point in Baltimore. His tireless service helped to keep the working families of east Baltimore out of the dark so that they could lead productive lives.
If you look around the Perry Hall area, it becomes evident that we have a great many folks working with the same sort of quiet dedication as did my grandfather. Many of them are located at industrial operations, like in Perry Hall-White Marsh. Some travel down Maryland Route 43 to work at either Lockheed Martin or , while others drive to Towson at the headquarters.
Speaking of labor as a whole, there is another electrician I should mention. My retired neighbor, Rocco Malinowski, spent his career as an electrician affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local #24. He had years filled with all sorts of interesting work, some of which included being involved in the renovation of the stage lighting and chandeliers at the Hippodrome Theatre in downtown Baltimore.
In listening to some of his experiences at work and with his union, I have come to have a better appreciation for how organized labor plays a role in helping to build a productive workforce. I believe that this is achieved through the promotion of camaraderie and teamwork that my neighbor has often mentioned. In today’s workplace, where people simply don’t seem to stay in one place for their entire career—as our parents or grandparents did—any efforts that encourage people to bond as a team are good steps to keeping American industry productive and successful.
So as you enjoy the Labor Day holiday, instead of just getting ready for another backyard barbecue, why not look around for a worker to thank? If you can’t find a hard-working electrician, I’m sure you can track down a carpenter, a police officer, a plumber or perhaps a bricklayer to commend. If nothing else, look around at the wonderful community that we live in with all of its convenient resources and give thanks for the people that helped to create them.