9/3/2020

| By Jason Golden |

Labor Day weekend often brings about a long-held tradition for millions of Americans. It's the unofficial end of summer when families and friends typically gather for a cookout, day on the water, or some fun.

This year, Labor Day has a different look and feel for many. For those who have been able to navigate the pitfalls and unseen obstacles that COVID-19 has brought forward since March, Labor Day may feel more like a day of reflection - a day that gives us an opportunity to really think about the changes and challenges of our professions in this remarkable year that will go down in history.

For a large segment of our nation's workforce – professionals with disabilities – this Labor Day also represents the hard work they’ve done and the accomplishments they’ve achieved. The pandemic has presented an opportunity that may prove to be a "fork in the road."

Thousands of these talented professionals have been performing roles that are now considered essential for the continuity of business operations in many locations. These jobs include roles as custodians in federal buildings, food service workers in military hospitals and laundry providers for servicemen and women. These functions may have seemed like routine elements of the daily rhythm in years past, but in 2020, these roles have proven to be critical to maintaining our nation's path forward.

The "fork in the road" is a challenge to employers to include people with disabilities as a part of your employment plan moving forward. They were there for us during some our nation’s most difficult times and now it is our turn to be there for them.

People like Bonita, Rocky, Rebecca, Amanda, and Lucy have seen great change and success over the past six months alone. For them, and others who truly demonstrated their commitment and professionalism during the pandemic thus far, Labor Day is more than an unofficial end to the summer – it's a socially distanced high-five for a job well done.

For many, Labor Day represents not a day off, but some of the longest work hours of the year. Retail and service workers often spend Labor Day supporting “Back to School” sales in stores, keeping bathrooms clean at roadside rest stops, or keeping groceries moving through the supply chain. While these workers may not get to take Labor Day off with their friends and families, in 2020 this could be considered a blessing. COVID-19 has taken millions of jobs with it and unemployment numbers - especially for people with disabilities - are at historical highs.

For those who do have Labor Day off – and for those who will spend the day keeping our country moving forward – we thank you.