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Labor

Labor Day offers a chance to consider the division of labor that makes living on Long Island and in the United States so incredible.

Police officers stand ready to protect and serve. They leave their homes with the best of intentions, providing safety, security and order to our communities.

Similarly, firefighters offer an enormous measure of protection for us individually and collectively, racing into burning buildings to save us and keeping fires from spreading to nearby homes.

Members of the military protect our interests and help residents in our communities, country and strangers around the world.

Priests, rabbis, imams and other spiritual leaders encourage us to aspire to greatness, to see beyond our frustration and anger, and to believe in a higher purpose and a grander plan. They bring out the best in us and suggest ways to give our lives meaning beyond meeting our basic needs.

Psychologists and psychiatrists act as handrails for people’s minds and emotions, helping us deal with a wide range of challenges, frustrations and difficulties.

Doctors, nurses and medical health professionals refuse to allow bacteria, viruses or injuries to get the better of us, standing ready to help us fight an infection, determining what that mysterious pain is and, at best, help treat the cause of the disorder and not just the symptoms.

Sanitation workers enable us to keep our homes and communities clean.

Supermarket workers stock the shelves, help us find gluten-free food to manage our growing list of allergies, and make sure they have the specific brand of the milk we buy.

Car mechanics allow us to reach our appointments on time and make it to our children’s concerts.

Teachers feed hungry young minds, encouraging and inspiring the next generation, coming in before school or staying late to will students across another academic finish line.

Beyond offering the welcoming smile at many companies, receptionists wear numerous hats, directing traffic through offices, sending phone calls to the right extension, and knowing how to find anything and everything.

When we maneuver through the purchase of a home, the establishment of a will or the adoption of the newest member of our family, lawyers guide us through each process, becoming advocates for our interests and close confidants.

In the wee hours of the morning, bakers start the process of creating scones, heating up coffee and mixing the batter for birthday cakes.

Truck drivers spend hours on the road, carting all manner of goods, bringing foods or marble we have to have on our kitchen counters.

Ferry workers usher us back and forth on the Long Island Sound to visit family, to take ski trips, to return to college, or to visit sites in Connecticut and farther north.

Plumbers, electricians and structural engineers make sure our homes and offices operate smoothly, preventing a leak from becoming a flood, a spark from becoming a fire or a weak wall from becoming an accident site.

Driven by the desire to inform and to beat the competition, journalists search for news that offers valuable information.

Entertainers of all stripes keep us laughing, allow us to relate to people from other places or times — or take us on fantastic journeys to places in their minds.

Politicians represent our interests, debating and hopefully instituting the best policies for the rest of us.

Numerous others, whose professions didn’t make it into this space, also help our communities function.

While Labor Day is a chance to say “goodbye” to summer, it presents an opportunity to appreciate the hard work everyone performs.

File photo

A mother was delivering a baby on the side of the road when officers on patrol stepped in early Wednesday morning.

The Suffolk County Police Department said a car was stopped on the side of Deer Park Avenue, just south of Jericho Turnpike in Dix Hills, shortly after 2 a.m. and when patrol officer Joseph Ferro offered assistance, the driver said his wife was in active labor.

Officers Gerard Maxim and Jonathan Murray also responded, police said, and Murray helped the 32-year-old woman deliver a healthy baby girl.

Police said the Huntington Community First Aid Squad transported the Dix Hills couple and their new baby to Huntington Hospital.

Anne Shybunko-Moore, CEO of GSE Dynamics, New York Secretary of State Cesar Perales and Keith Barrett, president of Huntington Station Business Improvement District, speak last week. Photo from Laz Benitez

A state plan to raise the minimum wage made its way to Hauppauge to show how higher pay could impact close to home.

Cesar Perales, secretary of state under Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), spoke at GSE Dynamics on Oser Avenue March 18 outlining the governor’s proposal to capitalize on New York’s economic recovery by raising the minimum wage from $8.75 to $10.50.

Perales said the state has already created more than 500,000 new private sector jobs since the big recession — the second most in the country. But at the same time, wages have not grown fast enough and people are being left behind, he alleged.

“We had a bad few years after the recession in 2008, but we are out of it now and we are moving forward,” he said. “Unemployment is down and, in every region of the state, jobs are up.”

Cuomo’s plan calls for a $10.50 minimum wage across the state, except for New York City, where he suggests the minimum wage be increased to $11.50. In total, he said more than 1.35 million workers would see a wage increase throughout the state, bringing a direct economic impact of nearly $3.4 billion.

“The minimum wage should allow people who work full-time jobs to support themselves and their families – but that is just not possible today,” Cuomo said. “Our proposal will help hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers better sustain themselves and live with dignity and respect. The State Legislature must pass our proposal this year, because the sweetest success is shared success and we won’t rest until we are all rising together.”

During four of the five recent increases in the state’s minimum wage dating back to 1991, data indicated an employment uptick each time the wage went up, Perales said.

“Under this plan, nearly 150,000 workers here in Long Island will see a pay raise,” he said. “In a family with two earners, the increase from $8.75 to $10.50 translates to more than $7,000 in additional income per year.”

The proposal said Long Island currently sees 85,264 total minimum-wage workers earning $8.75 today. But under the new plan, 202,248 Long Island workers would earn the minimum wage, bringing a direct economic value of $382.3 million to the island, Cuomo said.

Perales spoke alongside Keith Barrett, president of the Huntington Station Business Improvement District as well as Anne Shybunko-Moore, CEO of Hauppauge’s GSE Dynamics, to explain how higher minimum wages could bring better business to the North Shore.

“Raising the minimum wage is not just about money, it’s about opportunity,” Perales said. “It’s about saying that everyone who works a full-time job should have the chance to live a decent life and put food on the table for themselves and their loved ones. Because at the end of the day, we are all part of the same community and the same state, and we are at our best when we all do well together.”

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