For most of the people in the U.S. 1 audience, Labor Day is pretty much an oxymoron. The last long weekend of the summer, Labor Day is the time to squeeze in one more trip to the shore or weekend in the mountains. Work is the last thing on our minds.

But editing this week’s cover story was an up close reminder of the origins of Labor Day (decreed by Congress in 1894).

As Chrissy Ott reports, toiling in the aisles of a big retail store is neither glamorous nor financially rewarding. But it beats unemployment and carries with it a sense of camaraderie that has been shared by workers for many generations. Those workers, while perhaps taken for granted by consumers, are beginning to flex their collective muscle: Walmart is under pressure to raise its pay level in some communities; McDonalds has been petitioned to stop forcing employees to accept wages paid through fee-heavy debit cards. Closer to home, 55 Dunkin Donut stores, including four in the U.S. 1 area, have agreed — after a U.S. Department of Labor inquiry — to pay managers for overtime work never properly credited.

On your way back from the shore on Monday, if you need some supplies for your home or garden, swing by one of the big box stores. They will be open, and one of their staff — probably someone with a smile — will be ready to serve you. Thanks to all who labor on Labor Day.

#b#To the Editor: Make Streets Safe#/b#

Editor’s note: Princeton resident Yvonne Bleiman, 76, died August 20 after being struck by a motor vehicle while crossing the street with another pedestrian. The letter below refers to a newspaper account of the accident:

Noting yet another pedestrian death in the newspaper, I found it a bit ironic that one of the most important factors in the story was its last line. That is, “Though there is not a marked crosswalk on East Broad Street, police said the women were legally crossing the roadway.”

For want of some paint and signage, this woman is dead. Incomplete streets mean people — pedestrians — die.

This is what you get when streets are just built for cars, not people. As if cars were the citizens, taxpayers, voters. This — more pedestrian deaths — is what you get when municipalities fail to adopt and implement complete streets policies. And sadly you get it over and over and over as statistics reveal.

And yet very few towns in New Jersey have adopted complete streets policies and even fewer are aggressively implementing such policies to ensure that new road projects are designed with the safety of pedestrians in mind, making it easy to cross the street and walk from place to place.

New Jersey mayors and councils need to get to work. Next time it could be your mother or grandmother or perhaps your son or daughter just trying to walk to school. Dead.

Douglas Johnston

AARP, Princeton

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