COMMENTARY: Workers keep America running
This Labor Day, while many enjoy a well-deserved rest from the daily grind of work and watch the last minutes of unofficial summer tick away, we reflect on the significance and symbolism of this day. Today we celebrate the American worker.
We are a nation of workers. It takes a 24/7, 365-day commitment for us to make this great nation run. It doesn’t just happen automatically and we can’t put the country on “autopilot.” Instead, it involves talent, skill, intelligence, commitment and a willingness to work hard even during the toughest of times.
We must not only celebrate the American worker but we must appreciate the work they do. That is why I’ve made it the cornerstone of my public service to ensure workers have inherent rights just like those we enjoy as citizens of this great country. It’s common sense. It’s the right thing to do. And it’s an obligation I am bound to fulfill.
Whether it’s a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work, equal pay for women or fighting all forms of discrimination in the workplace, for a safe work environment or paid leave for those who need time off for a personal or family obligation — those rights speak to our shared, core American values.
We are at a crossroads in our history for working families. Labor is under constant attack and hardworking men and women have to fight harder than ever to maintain just the current working conditions. The standards that our parents and grandparents fought to gain are close to being lost because too many in Washington just don’t get it.
There is good news, though. Workers around the country are standing up and saying enough is enough. The fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage has gained an unprecedented following. Paid family leave and earned sick leave are beginning to make inroads across the country. And project labor agreements that ensure good-paying jobs are taking shape. We cannot stop fighting for our families.
That’s why I stand in solidarity with organized labor and the fight for fairness in the workplace, and why we renew our efforts to strengthen collective bargaining. The reason is simple — together, we are stronger.
So together, we will fight to advance an agenda that creates good jobs for working Americans — whether it is by creating new jobs or keeping jobs here instead of exporting them overseas.
This Labor Day, even if you have the day off, you can be certain of one thing. Somebody’s working. Day shift, night shift, full time, part time, temp or seasonal work, blue collar and white collar, career folks or those juggling multiple jobs or picking up extra hours to make ends meet, the work and the American worker never stop.
Today, as we honor our hardworking brothers and sisters, let’s recommit ourselves to protecting the standards that protect us all, and to building on our achievements to advance the workforce of tomorrow.
Donald Norcross represents New Jersey’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.