They Are Not Employees; They’re Family!

These tireless men and women are not employees; they’re family!

I may be retired, but I still hold closely to the concept that the hard-working men and women who work for us are not employees; they’re family.

That’s the way people felt in the early days when we began to settle this great land. We adhered to taking care of our employees when we built this country together. In the 1950’s when my parents owned two businesses on Main Street in Keota, Iowa, they honored their employee’s hard work.

In my grandparent’s day, the neighbors would all gather together to help the farmer and his hired hand get the crops in before the frost. People worked together, and the workers were treated well in the Midwest where I grew up.

During the holidays, I found myself watching the Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel as I made the cookies and candies for the upcoming celebration. I stopped in my tracks as the female lead in “Charming Christmas” spoke to Nick, the guy playing Santa Claus in her parent’s department store: “They’re not employees, they’re family.” This decision saved the store and the jobs of many employees.

When Did Employees Become Possessions?

Thankfully, we still have businesses in small towns where people treat employees with respect. These are the small businesses who depend on local traffic and who cherish the employees who help them open the doors each day.

My mother kept track each year of all the families in town who struggled to make ends meet.

Instead of handing out the green stamps to the customers, she kept them in a drawer in the store. In the weeks before Christmas, she exchanged those green stamps for dolls, toy trucks, warm winter coats, gloves, and boots.

The men from the warehouse would make trips out in the dead of night to leave precious packages on the steps of the houses where Christmas wouldn’t be quite as bright without her efforts.

They Were Always Part of the Family

Coffee Holmes worked in the office. He’d lost his leg as a young boy in an accident on the railroad track. Dad employed him as his second in command. I’ll never forget those kind eyes and ready smile. Coffee was named my God Father when I was born. He held me on his lap when I visited the store as a child. He drove me to and from Cedar Falls to my dorm when I was in college.

Mother cried as much for the jobs lost as for her personal loss when the store burned to the ground and she found out there wasn’t enough money in the account to mail the insurance check. My father hadn’t told her it didn’t get mailed. We had no coverage.

Everything changed the day of the fire. The value of the assets lost amounted to over two million dollars.

The thing is, Mom and I never forgot those people. I still exchange Christmas cards with Barbara Vittetoe who worked as the secretary at the store.

Things, They Are A’Changin’!

Patriotism: Can We Go Back to the attitude that they're not employees, they're family?
A New Attitude in the United States

I cringed as I listened to the new appointment to the Department of Labor.

Grandpa Burton always taught me to believe people will rise to any challenge and give their best if we only encourage them.

I”m praying that attitude will carry our nation through in the days and weeks to come.

Our businesses deserve to be paid for services honestly rendered and products safely delivered. We established Bankruptcy Courts for those instances where catastrophe threatened to destroy a livelihood. The intent of bankruptcy is never to be used to cheat our vendors. Believe me; I worked in the field of credit for the majority of my career. I saw more than a few instances where businesses “cooked the books” to avoid paying their bills.

I’m also concerned for our national workforce when it comes to overtime pay and minimum wages.  As a woman, I know what it’s like to receive fewer benefits and lower wages than a man doing the same job.

It Would Be So Easy to Take Assistance

If you’ve read my blog, you will remember that when the doctors urged me to go on disability, that I refused.

Grandma Burton called it “going on the dole,” when I was a child. She spoke of the depression and what she did to survive.

I followed my grandmother’s example. I never took one dime of taxpayer money. As a result, there were far too many nights when I went to bed without dinner, so I could feed what pitiful little we had to my husband and children.

I lost my regular medical insurance, and by not going to a doctor for so many years, my health became compromised.

These days, I like to believe I am like the majority of the workers in the United States. We expect a paycheck, and we also intend to do the work necessary to get a decent wage.

Hopefully, our new Labor Secretary will prove he is capable of doing great things! If someone gives their heart and soul to business, they are not employees; they are family. That’s a truth we used to acknowledge in our small town businesses. I believe we still do.

We need to honor hard work in this country by paying a decent wage, providing adequate health insurance, and treating our employees with respect.

The “Hope of a Nation” rests with the leaders.

We find those leaders in every small town in this land. They don’t all reside in Washington DC.

Respect those who fought so you could get the education you have and the opportunities you’ve enjoyed.

They are not employees; they’re family!

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