FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — COVID-19 has shown more actions needs to be taken by policymakers and employers to support workers in the United States.
Mike Pierce, history professor at the University of Arkansas, said many employees put their lives in danger just to do their jobs.
“We say we are celebrating workers, and then expect them to come to work at a restaurant for $3 an hour and tips,” Pierce said. “We say we celebrate nurses, and yet we expect them to perform miracles.”
Pierce said workers over the past 40 years have not always been treated fairly and the pandemic has recently brought the issue to light again.
“People who labor, people who work and actually do the things that need to be done in our society, have been suffering and COVID has brought this all home,” Pierce said.
Labor Day started in the 1880s to celebrate workers and their achievements. Now, its a national holiday full of retail sales and the unofficial end to summer. However, Pierce said the plight of workers still needs to gain attention on the day.
“They, in order to feed their families in order to pay their rent, in order to put food on the table, they have to put their lives in danger,” Pierce said.
Pierce said in order to protect workers he would like the minimum wage increased to $15 per hour and the Pro Act passed, which would strengthen the legal right of employees to join a union.