Eddie Bernice JohnsonBy Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

Traditionally, Labor Day is a time in our country when we acknowledge the contributions to our economy and our way of life made by the American worker.  For some, it is a time of large parades, family picnics, football games and rest.

Congress recognized the necessity of having a holiday during which the activities of laborers were highlighted. In June of 1928, legislation was passed in Washington that signaled out the first Monday in September as a national holiday.

Labor Day has its origins in the late 1800s with the activities of union members and their leadership that demanded better working conditions, increased wages and union representation. More than twenty states recognized a day to “honor labor” before the Congress acted.

During Labor Day forums and meetings, a number of issues are considered by members of organized labor.  They include the unemployment rate, providing workers with a “livable wage” and closing the gap between the wages paid to women and those paid to men.

As a member of Congress, I have fought for the American worker. I have proposed legislation designed to close the “gender gap” in wages and have backed legislation that would increase the number of jobs in our economy and job training.

This year, Labor Day comes at a time marked by significant progress. According to the Department of Labor, there are approximately 138 million people who are employed in our country.  In July of this year, our economy created 215,000 new jobs.

The job growth in our economy has been steady.  July marked the 58th consecutive month of job growth. The economy, according to many experts, is as healthy as it has been during the last 15 years. Yet, we still face a number of challenges.

It is vitally important that during our celebration, we remember those men and women who have not been able to find jobs due to a lack of opportunity or a lack of training. We must do all that we can to work collectively address the problems that impede the ability of every American to secure jobs that offer a livable wage and make it possible for families to feed and provide schooling for their children.

We must also remember that we have an obligation to prepare our young people for a 21st century world of work, where an emphasis is placed on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM-related) academic disciplines.  To do less would be to fail them, and ourselves.

I will continue the fight to secure funding for STEM-related programs, just as I have done in the past.

I will continue to support legislation and policies that close the gender-based pay gap, support families and offer better training programs. I will continue my efforts to secure a “livable wage” for all American workers and honor the dignity and sacrifices of American workers.