Mailbag: Recognize construction workers on Labor Day

While Labor Day typically signals the end of summer, it's also an opportunity to pause and celebrate the American worker. One segment of the country's work force often is overlooked — construction-industry professionals.

Labor Day is often associated with labor unions, but it actually is a day to honor all workers. The U.S. Labor Department reports that in 2012, only 13.2% of the workers in the construction industry were members of a labor union. The majority — 86.8% — have chosen to work in a merit shop, a free-enterprise environment.

The success of the merit shop, or open shop, can be attributed to the team approach in construction. Contractors and their construction workers join together to meet the needs of owners. This ensures that projects are completed safely, on time and on budget.

Merit shop employees take pride in the company for which they work and are rewarded for their contributions to the team. They are considered by many to be the best-trained, most productive and safest workers in the world.

On this Labor Day, take a look around and say thanks to the construction professionals, regardless of labor affiliation. These skilled workers build the offices, schools, hospitals, churches, sports arenas, restaurants and shopping centers that are central to our lives and that make our communities unique.

They are the electricians, millwrights, carpenters, welders, painters, pipe fitters, roofers, masons, plumbers, ironworkers, heavy-equipment operators, sheet metal workers, drywall installers, steelworkers, road pavers, concrete finishers and others who work hard every day building America.

Few industries touch our daily lives so directly and in so many meaningful ways. What better time to celebrate the sweat, hard work and dedication of the American construction professional. Have a happy Labor Day.

Susan McNeil


The writer is president and chief executive of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), Southern California Chapter.

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