All American workers

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All American workers

Unsplash / Pixabay.com

Unsplash / Pixabay.com

Unsplash / Pixabay.com

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Labor Day is a tribute to the workers who built America. It honors those who made this country into the best in the world, with the highest rates of production and the highest standard of living.

The extra day of rest and relaxation started over 100 years ago by labor unions as a “workingmen’s holiday”.

Labor Day is a day to celebrate the hard work of all of America’s workers. Not just “workingmen” but working women, and people of all backgrounds, professions, ethnicities, countries of origin, documented and undocumented workers.

The United States of America that we know today was built by immigrants. From the Pilgrims that settled Plymouth rock, to the Chinese laborers who built the railroads in the industrial revolution, to the undocumented construction workers who may have built your new house.

Labor Day was started by the same unions that helped the underpaid, abused and exploited workers to stand up for their rights.

Today, the nearly 6.5 million undocumented American workers are some of the most exploited and vulnerable workers in the U.S. They are frequent victims of unpaid wages, dangerous conditions and uncompensated workplace injuries, discrimination and other labor law violations. If they try to stand up for themselves, they routinely face physical and immigration-related threats and retaliation.

The United States needs to adopt immigration policy reforms that will eliminate the vulnerability of undocumented workers.

Currently, many non-profit worker centers empower immigrant workers to defend their employment rights. It’s a good sign. However, it must be reinforced with committed support from the public and private sector — from all Americans — to protect the rights of all workers.

Some people might say that I’m being un-American. They might say that immigrant workers are taking away the jobs of American citizens. Why should they be included in Labor Day? They might ask.

Isn’t it American to stand up for the rights of the exploited? Isn’t it American to celebrate and reward hard work?

That’s what Labor Day has always been about. It about America’s long history of standing up for the rights of its workers. It’s about celebrating not only their hard work, but the workers themselves. You are worth celebrating. You are worth honoring. Your rights are worth fighting for.

This Labor Day, let’s remember all of the workers who built — and are continuing to build — America.

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