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August 29, 2013

Happy Labor Day

by PBUnitedWay

For many of us, Labor Day is just another day we get a break from work or school. It’s a day to relax, go to the beach, turn on the barbecue, and spend time with family and friends. While Labor Day is certainly all of these things, at its core Labor Day is a celebration of workers’ rights and the triumphs and gains made by the US labor movement, dating back to 1882.

At its inception, Labor Day was viewed by workers not only as a way to celebrate their accomplishments, but also as a day to voice their thoughts and opinions on their working conditions and discuss strategies for improving them.

With an unemployment rate of 7.7% in Palm Beach County, there is reason to be optimistic. This number does not, however, account for those who are underemployed, working fewer hours and for lower pay than their peers. The part-time office worker who desires full-time work and the waitress with a college degree do not factor into unemployment numbers.

Now is the time to embrace the spirit of Labor Day, “air our grievances,” and work to make Palm Beach County a better place to live.

Unemployed and underemployed individuals often feel severe economic strain and mental stress. They have little or no access to health care; unemployed individuals cannot get healthcare through an employer and many part-time workers are denied access as well. Even many full-time workers (some with two or more jobs) often struggle to pay the rent and buy groceries, as the minimum wage has remained relatively stagnant and the cost of living continues to rise.

There is hope. The Town of Palm Beach United Way believes in equipping individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to get and keep a job that pays a living wage, as well as advocating for a stronger minimum wage. In partnership with our 51 member agencies, and with the support of our volunteers and donors, we can provide opportunities including:

  • Financial literacy programs that teach families how to budget, build savings and manage money
  • Affordable housing for seniors and families
  • Increased food distribution to families living at or below the poverty level
  • Resources that will aid in breaking the cycle of homelessness

No matter what your thoughts are on the labor movement, it’s necessary to occasionally sit back, take a moment, and remember that labor is the backbone of our economy and the heart of our nation.

This Labor Day, pledge to join the Town of Palm Beach United Way in advocating for a living wage and supporting organizations in our community that help people attain sustainable incomes.

Since 1945, the Town of Palm Beach United Way has invested more than $60 million into Palm Beach County because of generous donors like you. Although some of the needs since 1945 have changed, the Town of Palm Beach United Way is still helping people who struggle with hunger, homelessness, job loss, abuse, mental illness, and more.  To find out more about the Town of Palm Beach United Way visit www.palmbeachunitedway.org.   On behalf of the community that we serve, THANK YOU for the difference you make. 

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