The global COVID-19 crisis is reminding us of one important truth: we are on the same team, as Mainers, as Americans and as human beings.
Thus far, the Maine state government has done a good job of temporarily setting partisan politics aside and taking important steps to help Mainers in need and the economy during the COVID-19 crisis.
Likewise, we are seeing shining examples of the interdependence and common purpose of labor and management working together as a unified team.
In truth, this type of collaboration happens all the time. Businesses know that their most important asset is their people. That’s why they invest in them with training, health and retirement benefits, paid time off, education subsidies and more.
During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are increasing PTO, providing salary continuation, enabling people to work from home, buying masks, enabling social distancing, and doing any number of other things to care for and invest in their people.
For their part, workers are making personal sacrifices, working longer hours and extra shifts, and facing new risks in order to continue the delivery of essential services and necessary goods.
At the same time, Maine employers and employees are working together to maintain safety and keep the economy running so all of us can have food, clothing, shelter, energy, and transportation. These joints are expected to create conditions that are safer and healthier for employees long after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.
It’s a partnership and a collective effort. But far too often – including during the recent debate over the federal relief package – we hear arguments that government should use its resources to invest in people, not businesses.
There’s frustration often aimed at “business” or people with white collar or executive positions. While there might be merit to those facts and feelings at the national level, they don’t apply to Maine small businesspeople whose leadership, competence, and willingness to take risks, create foundational jobs and employ working people here.
Maine small businesspeople are creating opportunity for working people, not shipping jobs overseas, eliminating middle class positions, or charging excessive rates. They aren’t getting rich at the expense of working people. They are partnering with working people to get things done, take care of Maine people, and improve the quality of life here. Employers need employees and vice versa. We need to work together.
The fact of the matter is, when you invest in business, you invest in people because businesses are people. What’s more, they provide wages, training, education, health care, retirement plans and other benefits that allow people to thrive, support their families and build our economy.
When we look back from the other side of this crisis, we will see the countless ways that businesses prioritized the health, welfare and livelihoods of the people who work for them.