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Honoring America's federal and public workers this Labor Day

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Published on: Wednesday, August 29, 2012

By Sen. Benjamin Cardin

As we celebrate Labor Day 2012 on Sept. 3, I think it is important to remember it’s more than just a day of parades and speeches. It’s also a day to remember and honor all that American workers have done for our nation.

The American workforce is the best trained and most productive in the world. The success of American workers helped to build our middle class, and a major part of building the middle class has been the American labor movement. 

From the abolishment of sweatshops in which women worked 16-17 hour days for $1 to $2 a week to the end of child labor to the establishment of minimum wage and safety standards, the American labor movement helped to ensure a better life for American workers. 

Unfortunately, in today’s hyper-partisan atmosphere, it is popular by some to criticize the American labor movement — particularly federal and public-sector workers.  

As a Senator who represents more than 286,000 federal workers who live in Maryland, I am offended by criticism directed at them. Such criticism fails to recognize all our federal and public-sector workers do — and continue to do — for our nation. They teach our children,  protect our communities, secure our nation’s borders, ensure our foods and drugs are safe, issue Social Security checks, and provide assistance in times of need. Our public-sector workforce helps the citizens of our country every day.

In addition to a large federal workforce, Maryland also has the privilege of housing many federal agencies that are critical to our nation.

There is no denying that these are difficult times for all public-sector employees because of the almost constant attacks from those who want to use them as a scapegoat for our nation’s woes. I appreciate what our federal and public-sector workers do for our country, and, as a member of the U.S. Senate, I am committed to fighting to protect our public-sector workforce from shouldering the burden of our economic downturn and the federal deficit alone. I am fighting to put an end to the blame game that targets public-sector workers for political gain. I have called on the Senate to recognize the on-going sacrifices made by our federal workforce during this economic crisis.  

Our public-sector workforce is the best in the world, and they deserve our support and our gratitude for their help in making our nation the greatest in the world. Our country depends on their expertise, their skill and their commitment. 

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