Take pride in our local labor

While Labor Day continues to serve as the “end of summer” holiday (it was moreso when the schoolchildren returned to the classrooms on the day after the first Monday in September) it should be about more than firing up the grill one more time.

People fought for protections for workers in a time not so long ago. The fight led to safer workplaces, the rise of the middle class and benefit packages that helped build a nation. It is argued that the whole system went too far and we’re paying today for that across many sectors of the economy.

In our region, it is clear that change has arrived for the work force. Gone are the days when a person could graduate from high school and find a job that would last for his or her lifetime at the steel mill or the coal mine. Gone are the community supports those industries provided, through pay to the workers and direct community donations.

Labor Day thus should be about reflection, about the basic human decency of having a job, working well at it and living in a nation where we’re free to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

While work in the area is changing, we learned earlier this year that India-based JSW Steel is moving forward on plans to make steel again at the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. facility in Mingo Junction. Its investment, which might include the installation of a second electric-arc furnace, could total $500 million.

Oil and gas continues to be important in our region — processing facilities, pipelines and anciliary services continue to grow and provide jobs. Natural-gas fired power plants are planned for several locations in our region, which will lead to even more jobs for residents of the Tri-State Area.

Work continues in Monaca on one of the basic foundation blocks of the energy economy for the region in the Royal Dutch Shell ethane cracker under construction. PTT Global appears to be poised to begin work on its long-anticipated Belmont County cracker.

The plants bring the opportunity for many ancillary jobs serving the chemical and plastics industry, for which more factories would need to be built. And, those factories generally are located near the supplier of their feedstock, the cracker plants.

All of which means the pride of being able to work a full day and enjoying the fruits of that labor can become an opportunity for more people in the area and those who would come to the area to make a new home and find their opportunity.

It’s something to think about and hope for on Labor Day 2018.

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