Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
Statement by U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis for Labor Day
September 4, 2009
By Hilda L. Solis
"On Monday, Sept. 7, we will celebrate a great American holiday Labor Day. Over the years, it may have become a time for backyard barbecues. But the real intent behind today's holiday is honoring the contributions of American workers.
"Labor Day differs significantly from other holidays. It is devoted to no particular gender, individual, battle or religious observance. Simply put, it's a day shared by all. That's an especially important notion at a time when workers are feeling more anxiety than festivity.
"With the unemployment rate at 9.7 percent, it is no secret that Americans are facing monumental challenges during this economic crisis. I know that every job lost, every hour cut from the workweek, means another family having to make difficult decisions.
"That's why we are attacking this problem head-on, and we're beginning to see the tide turn. The Recovery Act, along with a comprehensive set of other economic policies, has helped cushion the blow of this recession and started getting economic activity back on track. We know the tough times are not over. But we also know that without the steps we have already taken, the pain would be far worse.
"Over the past seven months, I have met employers, labor and faith leaders, community organizers, elected officials, students, educators and activists Americans of all stripes and perspectives. I've seen, heard and felt their hope and optimism. Many of them have re-invented and re-educated themselves for careers in allied health, renewable energy and information technology. And I have witnessed youth from all over our country enrolled in Job Corps programs that are putting them on paths to secure and sustainable careers.
"These workers renew my faith that we will overcome our challenges and that our country will once again rebound stronger than before.
"We should all think about those families struggling during this Labor Day, and I'd like to suggest that we use this day not as a day 'off' but a day 'on.' We can still have picnics and barbecues, and use the day to do last minute back-to-school shopping, but let's do something else, too.
"Let's use Labor Day as a day where we all personally commit to play a role in the recovery of our economy and our nation. Let's use the day as an opportunity to mentor a young person, or volunteer at a veterans center or maybe help a friend looking for a job. Let's all do the work that will get America working.
"I wish everyone a safe and prosperous Labor Day."