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Cassandra Clifford
Executive Director and Founder of BTFF

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sharing the Labor Day Spirit

Photo Credit: UN News Center

 Like myself, most of you, were barley able to wind down a long weekend full of end of summer trips, pool parties and BBQ's in honor of Labor Day- and are now rushing to get the kids to school or the catch-up on work. Nonetheless I hope you you all had the best weather and the time to both rest and play!

Other than the end of summer, what is the meaning behind Labor Day? According to the Department of Labor (DOL), Labor Day “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers” and “constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” After more than 20 states adopted a holiday in honor of workers during the late 1800s, Congress passed an act on June 28, 1894 making the first Monday in September of each year the legal holiday of Labor Day.

 However while most of us in the U.S. took a well deserved weekend off and a day to celebrate our achievements and hard work, millions of others around the glob have never seen a day off, been rewarded for their hard work, nor giving a needed break or rest from the grueling routine of physical labor.  According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) some 21 million are victims of forced labor, an estimated 5.5 million of which are children under the age of 18. "According to new ILO estimates, three out of every 1,000 people worldwide are trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived and which they cannot leave."  Forced labor included those who are trafficked for sexual exploration, forced to work in agriculture or mining and as domestic workers.

The fight against forced labor is a global fight, however it is a fight that can be won through unified global action, laws and the enforcement of such laws, empowerment/education, gender equality, and consumer awareness.

How do we take the first steps to move forward? First we must ensure that the voices of men, women and children around the world are heard, and that we keep the true spirit of Labor Day alive all year round -to remember not all are rewarded and honored for their hard work. Thus we never forget that forced labor labor continues to be prevalent, one must seek to educate themselves and others on the issue.  We must be aware that forced labor comes not only at the cost of the laborer and their families, but also ours and that we are part of the supply chain wither we want to be or not -for it is in our daily products.  Products such as coffee, tea, sugar, vegetables and fruit, cotton,, cell phones, and so much more.  Therefore, one must become a conscious consumer and try to shop Fair Trade as often as possible and support your local community.

Today education is the first step (You've read this post great start), tomorrow we begin to take action as we speak out and spread the word to others (share this post with your friends via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter), and continue to educate yourself and take a more active role as a consume (check out Free2Work for a list of tainted products and download their app to help while your shopping.  As long as we continue to educate ourselves on the issue and the products modern slavery taint to make educated purchases and take a stand against companies who support the demoralization and harm of others, we will see an end to slavery  in out live time and know that we all have a role to play.

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