It’s a time to honor the people who keep our economy running, grow and make our food, manufacture and transport goods, teach our children and protect our health.
I hope you took the time to remember the contributions of the workers who built this nation and continue to make it strong.
Union leaders hosted the first Labor Day celebration in New York City in 1882. Annual Labor Day celebrations were soon taking place around the country on the first Monday of September, and it was declared a national holiday in 1894.
Labor Day took on even more significance in our state after the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, a tragedy that took the lives of over 140 workers, most of them teenage girls.
The push for stronger workers’ rights, including higher wages, fair hours, child labor laws, sanitary conditions and safety standards, was fueled by the tragedy, leading New York to adopt some of the most progressive labor laws in the nation.
As our economy moves forward today, we can’t lose sight of the important contributions of all workers. No matter the job, everyone deserves a fair wage and safe working conditions.
To that end, the Assembly majority has led the way in ensuring New York’s workers are treated with respect and have an opportunity to get ahead and provide for their families.
From fighting for a higher minimum wage – because an honest day’s work should always result in an honest day’s pay – to spearheading a paid family leave program, which begins this January, the Assembly majority knows that New York State is only as strong as its workers.
That’s why the Assembly also remains committed to ensuring equal pay for equal work, because it’s unconscionable that, in 2017, women are still making only 80 cents for every dollar a man earns, with disparities even greater for women of color.
I especially want to thank former stat senator Serf Maltese, who memorializes the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire each year. This remembrance is a sobering reminder that working men and women have sacrificed their lives to improve working conditions. Labor Day is dedicated to those men and women who fought for workers’ rights, making working conditions what they are today.
However you chose to spend your Labor Day weekend, I hope you paused to thank and recognize all those workers and activists who have fought so hard for fair wages and better working conditions. They have an ally in me, and I’ll always make their voices heard.
Mike Miller represents the 38th District in the Assembly.