*Image courtesy of Southern Poverty Law Center
Since 1894, we have observed Labor Day in the U.S. According to the Department of Labor, "Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."
Note that the definition does not specify "paid" workers or even documented workers. It is a tribute to workers who have contributed to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country - whether that means picking our food, cleaning our homes, teaching our children, styling our hair, entertaining us, making our clothing, building new schools or rebuilding damaged cities.
Trafficked labor has been identified in all of these industries in the U.S. Documented and undocumented, foreign-born and citizens alike have been exploited for their skills, services and ability to perform.
Labor Day is probably most popularly celebrated in the U.S. as a chance to relax and enjoy the end of summer before the beginning of the school year and, for many of us, the increasingly cold weather. While we at HTP strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of the holiday and spend time with friends and family, we also hope you will take to time to remember that there are workers out there who will not get a holiday; who will work under harsh and abusive conditions, most likely without pay. Their exploited labor puts food on our tables, clothes on our back and roofs over our heads.
Thank you for your readership, and Happy Labor Day.