Congressman Keith Ellison

Representing the 5th District of Minnesota

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Rep. Ellison Statement on Labor Day

Sep 4, 2017
Press Release

In March 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire shocked the American people with its brutality – 146 workers burned alive or asphyxiated on the smoke, unable to get out. Most were young immigrant women and girls.

This tragedy spurred New York into action with the most comprehensive investigation of factory conditions in the U.S. history, and the rest of the country took notice of their findings and over time instituted far-reaching reforms. The International Ladies’ Garment Worker’s Union (ILGWU), comprised primarily of young Jewish and Italian immigrants, was at the forefront of the movement calling for safer workplace conditions, worker’s compensation, higher wages, and critical benefits.

Immigrant voices and actions have been critical to many of our hard-won fights for better working conditions. They’ve enriched our communities and our workforce.

Despite our progress, immigrant workers are still vulnerable in the workplace – particularly undocumented workers.  They often work in the most physically demanding jobs, face unsafe work conditions, and receive lower pay. 

Thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), nearly 800,000 undocumented youth were given temporary work permits and allowed to come out of the shadows. They were given the ability to speak up about injustices in the work place without fear of retaliation. And the results are stunning – 69% percent of Dreamers moved to a better paying job after receiving DACA, 65% purchased their first car, and 5% started their own business.  Over the next decade, Dreamers are expected to contribute over $460 billion to the economy.

Dreamers are our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members. The Trump administration is expected to abandon them in the next few days. 

Labor Day is day to honor the workers of the Labor Movement who fought for a better future. We honor their memory by organizing and continuing to fight for the rights of all of America’s workers, documented and undocumented alike. 

This Labor Day, I call on President Trump to stand with the labor movement, Dreamers, and all immigrants who have contributed to our society by protecting DACA and moving forward on comprehensive immigration reform that would provide a pathway to citizenship for so many of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones.

We all must stand together if we want to build an economy that works for everyone. Let’s take today to do right by all of America’s workers.