Letter: Appreciate essential workers by improving their lives

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To the editor:

I agree with Don Keelan's recent suggestion ("The need to stay positive," June 5) that we should honor the many people—grocery store workers, truckers, cleaning staffs and many others — who are being lauded as heroes during this pandemic. They have, indeed, risked their health to continue to provide essential services to the rest of us. But Mr. Keelan's suggestion of designating a day, week or month to honor them strikes me as an entirely inadequate way to show our appreciation.

Yes, the pandemic has highlighted how important this work and these workers are to our society. But many of these workers would benefit far more from a living wage, access to affordable health care and paid leave than from the fleeting ego boost of being applauded one a year. They, and the work they do, are important every day, not once a year, and our appreciation should be shown in ways that improve their lives every day, not once a year.

By the way, we already have a holiday intended to simply honor them. It's called Labor Day, and its significance has been gradually lost. Most of the very workers Mr. Keelan has in mind are now actually forced to work on that holiday. Let's also reinvigorate that holiday.

Lee Russ

Bennington

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