This Labor Day, Workers’ Rights Are More Important Than Ever
Observed the first Monday in September, Labor Day serves as an annual celebration of the American workforce, the historic victories of the labor movement from which we all benefit today, and the contributions that workers have made toward our nation’s successes.
Today, and every day, Public Justice recognizes and celebrates the impact workers have made in keeping this country moving forward. This year’s federal holiday arrives under a new Administration, which has heralded promises of a renewed commitment to this country’s workforce — a commitment that was largely absent these past four years. Last year, for example, when the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration fell short of doing its job during such a critical moment, Public Justice joined dozens of ally organizations to call for the resignation of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia and OSHA leader Loren Sweatt for failing to take even the most basic steps to protect the nation’s workers. As the Biden Administration took office, we laid out our key priorities, which included restoring a government that puts its workers first.
However, our work isn’t over. Despite a change in administration, we’re not stepping back when it comes to ensuring workers’ rights and safety. This Labor Day, our nation continues to reckon with the ongoing COVID pandemic still impacting communities and workplaces throughout the country. As rates continue to skyrocket, it’s now more important than ever that the right measures and policies are implemented to lessen workers’ chances of contracting COVID-19. This includes, for example, an emergency standard that covers all workers in dangerous environments like food processing facilities and fulfillment centers. Among many things, this pandemic has shown the disturbing frequency to which employers have prioritized their bottom line at the expense of their workers’ lives. We cannot continue allowing that to happen.
In addition to worker safety during the pandemic, we believe workers should be treated fairly no matter their background, identity, or immigration status. Far too often, companies take advantage of their employees – especially those most marginalized – using deceitful practices to jeopardize their rights and avoid accountability when caught. Public Justice has been at the forefront of calling out these malicious practices by pushing for legislation that advances these efforts. We’ve been working with our ally organizations to push for passage of the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination against LGBTQ people in almost every aspect of American life, including the workplace. We’ve also been calling on Congress to pass the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, which would put an end to forced arbitration, a practice that forces consumers and workers to work out disputes against a corporation in a private forum, as a means to escape accountability and keep wrongdoing out of the public eye. Passage of both these bills would ensure a safer, healthier, and fairer workplace for every American.
This Labor Day, DOL Secretary Marty Walsh recently affirmed his promise to focus on this country’s workers, by building a future that empowers and values them. If this nation wants to empower its workers, this means creating policy changes and safety standards that protect them and implementing regulations that ensure employers don’t let profit motivate their decisions when it comes to worker health and safety.
As advocates for workers everywhere, we are committed to ensuring that DOL — and other government institutions — keep their promise. And when they fail to do so, that’s when we step in. From fighting on behalf of Amazon workers exposed to COVID to holding meat corporations accountable for lying to the public about worker safety, our fight continues as we make sure this country’s workforce feels heard, not abandoned. It is more critical than ever that workers are safeguarded from mistreatment and discrimination. No one should have to go to work with the fear of not coming home. No one should have to jeopardize one’s health and safety for the sake of a paycheck.
This Labor Day, we are grateful for the contributions that workers have made everywhere in keeping our country running. Celebrating Labor Day means ensuring workers can do their job without the fear of losing their lives. It means protecting their rights under the law and fighting injustice by advocating for policy changes that fight discriminatory practices. Today and every day, our commitment to empowering this country’s workers continues. We hope you’ll join us.