Labor Day just another day of work for many

Registered nurse Kelli McGee charts a physical assessment on her patient at her work station in the intensive care unit at North Mississippi Medical Center on Labor Day. (Adam Robison)

Registered nurse Kelli McGee charts a physical assessment on her patient at her work station in the intensive care unit at North Mississippi Medical Center on Labor Day. (Adam Robison)

By Robbie Ward
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Not everybody relaxes on Labor Day, a time set aside to remember working people.

While some employees had Monday off work, others continued to keep daily operations going in hospitals, businesses, restaurants and other workplaces.

Inside intensive care units at North Mississippi Medical Center, nurses cared for hurting and struggling patients.

Mary Frances Timmons, a registered nurse supervising one of the ICU sections worked a 12-hour shift. She usually doesn’t think about holidays at work but thinks about her own health when patients talk about what they’d rather do besides be in the hospital.

“I’ve always felt fortunate to go to work and help people,” she said.

In another ICU section of the hospital, registered nurse Kelli McGree monitored a patient with respiratory failure.

“I’m happy to be working today,” she said.

Labor day dates to more than 130 years ago, when 10,000 workers assembled in New York City for a parade and later inspired similar events throughout the country. The national holiday is intended to pay tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers, but the day’s meaning is often lost.

Joe Atkins, journalism professor at Ole Miss and veteran journalist who often writes about labor, said people often forget efforts through the labor movement, especially in Mississippi, a state often seen as hostile toward labor unions.

“When do you even hear the word ‘labor’ other than on labor day?” he said. “Labor unions gave us the eight-hour day and 40-hour work week. They helped end child labor and got rid of sweatshops.”

For many businesses, Labor Day is another opportunity to lure customers in hopes of finding discounts on something special. At Room to Room furniture store in Tupelo, design consultant Doug Bell spent the day selling dining room tables and sofas. Working on commission, Bell didn’t mind the chance to increase sales.

“I’m just used to working on holidays,” said Bell, who has worked in retail for 15 years.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com