Remembering Working Families This Labor Day
This Monday, we will mark the unofficial end to the summer vacation season. While residents and visitors to South Jersey are celebrating the long weekend with the final BBQs and beach excursions, let us not forget the origins of the annual holiday that is known as Labor Day. We should take the time to remember how hard our ancestors worked to achieve the rights American workers enjoy today.
The first Labor Day was held in 1882 in New York City when labor activists marched in demand of a day to recognize the efforts of all workers in America. Their march struck a chord across the country, many of whom were also working long hours in terrible conditions with little job security or benefits for themselves or their families. As the labor movement grew in numbers and strength, leaders pushed for reforms to improve workplace conditions and the lives of everyday working Americans. Thus, with the establishment of the Labor Day holiday, workers were successful in focusing the attention of business and political leaders to their issues. By 1894, the first Monday of each September would be a federally-recognized holiday known as Labor Day.
The story of the struggle to establish Labor Day, however, does not just lie in history. That struggle has been constant throughout the past century and continues today. Though the issues and goals may have evolved, American workers continue to mobilize in unions across the country, standing up for their fair share and for their collective rights as employees. As Co-Chair of the Republican Working Group on Labor, I continue to work for common-sense reforms that are fair and balanced for both employers and employees.
In July, I was proud to join with my fellow Working Group members in successfully pushing through legislation in the House of Representatives that would have increased the federal minimum wage from its stagnant 1997-level of $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour. With bipartisan support, the House signaled its commitment to the hard-working families in America. I was deeply disappointed when the Senate turned its back on those workers who struggle to provide for their families. It is one thing to say I stand with working men and women' in a speech or advertisement, but quite another to vote in support of their worthy cause.
In addition to raising the base wages that every American worker is entitled too, we must also work to ensure reasonable work hours, proper safety precautions, decent workplace conditions and protected benefits. I will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with hard-working Americans across many industries - from building trades to air traffic controllers and countless others - to ensure that the rights they have fought for throughout history are not lost. I am proud to support America's workers, particular those in South Jersey who consistently keep me informed about the issues that are critical to them and their coworkers.
Thus, this Labor Day, let us honor the countless contributions of hard-working Americans across the nation - and be thankful for their service. By being victorious over their struggles, their ancestors established the value of hard work that has made our nation great. It is only by our continued efforts to stand alongside American workers will our country remain the best nation on earth.