Guest column: Southern Oklahoma workforce - Thank you and happy Labor Day

The Daily Ardmoreite
Mita Bates

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, organized by the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883. In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has changed over the years, but still maintains the primary purpose of honoring workers across our country.

The vital power of labor provides us with the highest standard of living and the greatest production capacity in the world. Through the efforts of our workforce, we can realize the ideals of economic and political democracy.

Our workforce today looks very different. Every year I stress that workers must be agile and constantly improve their skills to meet the demands of the 21st century. Today, with the continuing impact of COVID-19 and unprecedented departure of the “Boomers”, it is even more essential to have workers that can quickly adapt their skills to the changing environment.

Thank you to our local employers, who during an extremely difficult time, attempt to maintain their workforce levels. This commitment is reflected in the continued stability of the economic indicators in Southern Oklahoma. The Chamber continues to assist local employers in both the recruitment and development of all workers in the region. While there are challenges to stay competitive in the marketplace, our history indicates that we will rise to the occasion. It is appropriate that on Labor Day we honor those who have participated in the effort that provides much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker. Enjoy the extended weekend and celebrate!

— Mita Bates is the president and CEO of the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce.