THE BLOG

Public Service Workers Making the Holidays Happen

12/19/2016 12:56 pm ET | Updated Dec 19, 2016

This December, as we wrap presents in our homes, we probably won't notice the scrape of a snowplow blade as it hits pavement outside. While we catch up with out-of-town guests, people like Dave Bride, an Indianapolis public works employee, will be making the streets passable so the police and EMTs can speed to their next call, and the rest of us can make a last minute run to the grocery store.

Just before 11 p.m., as the late night "B" shift begins, Dave will climb into the cab of his truck. For the next twelve hours, he'll scour Indianapolis streets at a careful 20 mph crawl, clearing miles of thoroughfare, peppering the road with salt. After a decade on the job, Dave's seen it all. During record years, like the winter of 2013-2014, Dave worked 14 days in a row.

Dave and all 1.6 million women and men of AFSCME, no matter where they live or what they do, share a few things in common. They believe in their work. You'll never hear them complain. They don't ask for our thanks.

But they deserve it.

The holidays are a time for celebration, a time to let yourself eat a little more than usual, and a time for family. But it's also a time to take stock. Amid all the noise and rancor of the recent presidential campaign, it's easy to lose sight of people like Dave.

It's easy to let the sound of the pundits' arguing drown out the sound of Dave's plow as it turns another corner. It's easy to obsess over the latest headline while forgetting that somewhere, a corrections officer's kid will peek out her bedroom window, waiting for her dad's car to pull into the driveway at the end of his shift. I know what it's like to be that kid: my father, a bus driver and union member in Cleveland, embodied the pride and the grit that defines AFSCME members.

The people who make our towns and cities run--the firefighters, the sanitation workers, the nurses, the school employees, even the puppeteers! (see video below)--they soldier on, regardless of which party is in power. They're the everyday heroes who make America happen, whether making children smile or keeping the roads safe, and they don't take a break. They don't need a thank-you card.

But they deserve it.

So as we celebrate the holiday season, we owe it to people like Dave Bride to keep them front and center in our prayers. Having sacrificed their holidays to make ours better, it's the least we can do to thank them.

Bruce Cannon, a puppeteer and secretary of AFSCME Local 299 (DC 37), makes the holidays brighter for New York City's families.

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