Labor Day Message: Honoring Working Men and Women

Posted by Steven Feldstein
August 31, 2014
Women Laborer Transport Bricks at a Brick Kiln Factory in India

On Monday, September 1st, communities across the United States will come together to honor the contributions of working men and women, across generations, who have built this country up.  Standing up for the dignity of work the belief that honest, fairly compensated labor gives meaning and structure to our lives is and always will be a core American value.  Our workers have made us who we are today.

Workers are the backbone of nations.  They provide essential contributions to local economies – and also contribute to democratic progress and stability.  Independent labor organizations are, at their best, incubators of democratic practices at the grassroots level.  Respecting workers’ rights and bringing workers into the formal economy leads to positive, long-term economic outcomes, such as reduced inequality and increased foreign direct investment.

Standing up for workers’ rights and decent work across the globe is not only the right thing to do, but it is a sound investment – creating jobs at home and abroad, strengthening stability and security, and promoting democracy and prosperity for all.  Secretary Kerry said: “as the aspirations that make America great go global, there are incredible opportunities for America to benefit and also to provide leadership.  The work we do [abroad] – the exports we sell, the democracies we support, the high standards that we set – all of them can create jobs and opportunity right here at home.”

And so the U.S. government promotes internationally recognized labor rights, including expanding economic opportunity for young people, women, and informal economy workers, and more fully integrating these workers into their nations’ political and economic spheres.  

Workers everywhere should be free to exercise their fundamental rights and enjoy decent working conditions. The State Department supports this agenda through policy, trade relationships, and programming – bringing together governments, the private sector, civil society and labor organizations to discuss shared challenges of addressing labor and human rights around the world.  

I wish you, and workers everywhere, a safe and enjoyable Labor Day.

Learn more about U.S. government engagement on international labor rights at, or follow the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at or @State_DRL on Twitter.

About the Author: Steven Feldstein serves as a Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

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