We reflect on Labor Day's origins and look towards the future as we continue to fight for workers’ rights.
Created by the labor movement in the 19th century, Labor Day originated to unify workers, reduce hours, and create a healthy working environment in the workplace.
At the height of the Industrial Revolution, people of all ages faced extremely unsafe working conditions, including poor air quality, unsanitary facilities, and lack of breaks. The average U.S. factory worker worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks just to cover basic needs. That’s 84 hours a week, more than double the standard 40 hour work week we have today! Labor unions organized strikes and rallies to negotiate hours and pay, sometimes resulting in violence, and were successful in dramatically improving the working environment we benefit from today.
While Labor Day is a celebration of these historic efforts, it is also a day to remind us that we’re still fighting for living wages and safe working conditions for all people. Minimum wages in the fashion industry generally cover 50% or less of what’s needed to reach factory workers’ basic needs (and, sadly, 30% or less in the footwear sector). We believe we can do better.
Thanks to your support, all producers in our supply chain receive a living wage, meaning their salary covers 100% of their basic needs (housing, nutritious food, health care, children’s education costs, etc.), in addition to benefits and a healthy and safe working environment.
We encourage you to continue asking your favorite brands where and how their products are made, as your choice to purchase from brands who truly practice social and environmental responsibility helps push the ethical fashion movement forward more than anything else.
As we reflect on Labor Day this year, let’s honor its origins and continue and continue the fight for workers’ rights. Here's to the men and women who gave us better working conditions, shorter hours, and a day off in September.
Happy Labor Day!