Thanks to Labor Day, over 500 employees at the General Motors Plant in Wyoming have the chance to be home with families today. Production Manager Rick Demuynck, says employees are a critical part of the GM worldwide success and more than deserve a special day off. “Labor Day recognizes the importance of family,” says Demuynck. “Our operations run regularly sometimes 6 days a week. Our folks spend a lot of time away from family, and that requires family sacrifices sometimes because it’s hard to be in two places in the same time. This is a chance to be with families.”
Employees at the GM Plant are just a small segment of the nearly 200 million American workers honored by Labor Day, though some employees will be on the job during special sales or other holiday events. Our 24-7 life style guarantees that Labor Day looks much different now than when it first began, the result of an often turbulent history between labor, management, and the formation of unions.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Congress declared the first Monday in September Labor Day in 1894. The national holiday “constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” Demuynck agrees that the recognition is fitting. “Obviously, the basic wages and benefits of workers in this community – and that’s about $50 million this year – that money goes right back into the community. Beyond that, investment for operations will double in size over coming years. “
Demuynck, whose father worked in the automotive industry for 47 years, says he is “proud and humbled” to be in charge of the GM Plant. “My earliest memories from my father are the importance of hard work, the importance of labor. We (GM) are the best in the world measured in quality, productivity, any way you want to measure, a direct result of women and men who work here.”
Even though technological advances have reduced jobs over the years, Demuynck claims it would be a mistake to think people are not critical to plant operations.
“Technology is present in different forms of assembly and manufacturing, it helps in quality, which is important in manufacturing. But at the end of day, this is still a people system. We will never be any stronger than the people in the operation in every department.”
So if you’re shopping today, eating at a restaurant, in need of a hospital or any of the other services that keep people on the job today, be sure to thank them. No matter how technical our world gets, people still make Labor Day worth celebrating.