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On Labor Day, State Should Remember to Honor Workers

By Al Henley
President of the Alabama AFL-CIO

The end of summer is near and Labor Day is around the corner. Even though many of us have
earned a day off to relax and celebrate, there are still others who will have to work a second or
even third job on Labor Day because their minimum wage jobs do not pay enough to cover basic
living expenses.
It’s wrong that working families are losing ground because Congress refuses to take action on
raising the minimum wage. While Republicans in Congress play politics, working families must
decide how to allocate their meager salaries. That means figuring out how to pay for gas and
groceries. Jobs should lift workers out of poverty, not trap them in poverty.
How is a family expected to survive on an unlivable wage?
On Labor Day, let’s remember that it’s America’s workers who keep our nation running. But for
all our hard work, many of us still aren’t able to take time off when we get sick or need to care
for a loved one.
While the Family and Medical Leave Act has kept millions of people from losing their jobs when
serious medical needs arise, it doesn’t cover 40% of people on the job. Too many parents without
access to paid sick leave are forced to send ailing children to school, potentially impacting their
long-term health and educational performance.
Workers who get sick but lack paid sick days often are forced to take time away from work
without pay, putting their jobs and livelihoods in jeopardy. People without paid sick time are
more likely to go to work sick, where they experience reduced productivity and risk infecting
their co-workers.
One of the best ways to honor workers and create a strong workforce is to ensure we all have the ability to take time off when we’re sick or when we need to care for a loved one.
Let’s honor all the hard working men and women on Monday and remember why we are celebrating.
Al Henley, President of the Alabama AFL-CIO

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