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Labor Day takes on important meaning

Hard at work

The Ellman’s Garage crew is appreciated this Labor Day by being given the day off. OBSERVER Photo by Natasha Matteliano

Businesses celebrate and appreciate their employees year-round, but Labor Day is a day dedicated to workers in particular.

According to the Department of Labor, the special day — always the first Monday in September — is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the United States.

Labor Day is a day where a lot of employers give their employees the day off to thank them for their hard work. Locally, many businesses have spoken up about the dedication of their employees during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In Dunkirk on Doughty Street, one can find Ellman’s Garage, where a team of 12 employees work six days a week to provide motor vehicle repair services. Ellman’s owners, Jim and Todd Ellman and their secretary Cindy Ellman, all work very hard to make sure their employees are recognized for what they do.

“COVID-19 didn’t really affect us in the long run, besides making some obvious changes like the guys wearing masks and having customers wait outside,” Cindy said. “The guys show up every day and haven’t skipped a beat. We depend on them and they always pull through, they work so hard every single day.”

Upper Crust team, including Katie Cardo, owner and her employees Ashley Ahlstrom, Alyssa Velk, Hannah Glavey, Chelsea Sterling, and Emily Gizowski. OBSERVER Photo by Natasha Matteliano

Cindy explained that the garage rewards and recognizes their team throughout the year, not just on Labor Day.

“Whatever they need, they get. It’s not due to the pandemic, they (the owners) would do it for them anyway,” Cindy said. “We couldn’t ask for any better employees. They deserve this weekend to take and spend with their families.”

COVID-19 has not changed the way Ellman’s appreciates its employees. According to Cindy, they’ve always been appreciated and recognized. “COVID doesn’t change how we feel,” she said. “They will always be appreciated here.”

‘PRETTY SPECIAL TO ME’

After 31 years, Charlotte and Michael Herlong of Fresh and Fancy Floral Design Studio know the ins and outs of Labor Day. They have been busy working hard during the pandemic and Labor Day is a special day where they get to celebrate the hard work from themselves and employees. Though most of their employees have not returned back to work yet, Charlotte says that business has really been non-stop.

Michael and Charlotte Herlong plan on spending Labor Day relaxing — as long as it’s not too busy. OBSERVER Photo by Natasha Matteliano

“The flowers have been a great connector for those who couldn’t see their loved ones,” she said. “From nursing homes to the hospitals, we’ve been busy delivering flowers all along.”

Charlotte explained that they were concerned about not having graduations and weddings, but the orders seemed to have kept coming in and continue to come in regardless. This has kept them very busy, as people are sending flowers to loved ones when they can not go to see them in person.

The changes in employment and the ways people are discovering how to do their jobs differently is all new to Charlotte. “I think that people have found that they can work remotely instead of being there, but find that they miss being with coworkers,” she said. “We took it for granted how valuable it is to go to your place of work and have that camaraderie. We’ve learned to appreciate that and not take it for granted.”

Sharing how Labor Day has always been close to her heart, Charlotte said that life is special, and people need to celebrate all factors of it, even down to working. “Labor day has always been pretty special to me. I love what I do and enjoy it,” she said. “We celebrate the fact that we can do it. We have great attitudes and celebrate that we can work.”

CELEBRATING HARD WORK

Chris and Katie Cardo are the owners of Upper Crust on Main Street in Fredonia. According to Katie, Labor Day is a day where, like many other days for Upper Crust, they celebrate their employees’ hard work and effort. This year, the day is even more special to them because of the pandemic.

In March, they had to cut their staff down, so that bumped the workload up on all the remaining employees. The crew was down to four employees, where they normally have about 15.

“Everyone who was working during that time really stepped up. You can tell they care so much and want the business to thrive, even during a pandemic,” Katie Cardo said. “When we got to May, we gave those four employees a raise. They deserved it for all the work they put in.We have a really amazing group and we couldn’t run it without them.”

The whole Upper Crust team is having an extended weekend off. “The group really stepped up and worked even harder than they usually do, they kicked it into high gear,” she said. “They deserve it and we are more than willing to give it to them. We all need that longer break once in a while to refresh ourselves.”

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