Labor Day Q & A: How to Build a Better Future

This Labor Day, the U.S. Department of Labor is honoring the resiliency of our workforce, especially those essential workers who are helping us through the pandemic. We’re also committed to building a more inclusive economy that empowers all workers. Here’s a snapshot of what we’re working on from department leaders.


How can we support caregiving workers while ensuring they can thrive in their jobs and care for their families and themselves?

“The Wage and Hour Division prioritizes protections for essential workers providing child care, health care and home care across our country -- including combating the misclassification of care workers as independent contractors. Enforcing essential protections for caregiving workers ensures they take home all the wages they have earned, allowing them to thrive in their jobs and take care of their families.” - Wage and Hour Division Acting Administrator Jessica Looman“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform caregiving policies and practices in ways that would shift the experience of American women and workers of color today and in future generations to come. Paid leave and greater access to affordable child care, elder care, and disability care are all essential components of a robust care infrastructure and critical to staying connected in the workforce.” - Women’s Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon


What are ways we can build a modern, inclusive workforce — one where all workers can find jobs that are safe, pay fair wages and don’t discriminate — and where workers have a seat at the table and opportunities for advancement?

“We need to invest at the community level, increasing access to proven job training strategies, and hold ourselves accountable for reaching the workers who most need the training and support. We also know building an equitable, inclusive labor market means more than training. Ensuring the right supports are in place – from child care to transportation to career counseling – eliminates barriers and enables individuals to pursue better training opportunities and jobs.” - Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Lenita Jacobs-Simmons“Without question, workers represented by labor unions have a seat at the table that isn’t enjoyed by those who are not. Evidence suggests workers represented by unions earn more, and experience smaller gender- and race-based wage gaps, than those who do not. Our charge is to foster unions’ integrity so that workers, employers, the public and policymakers have confidence in this important force for good in the modern economy.” - Office of Labor-Management Standards Director Jeffrey Freund“Our goal is to ensure workers have a voice in health and safety. To this end, we’re improving OSHA’s whistleblower protections, holding stakeholder meetings with traditionally underserved communities, and working with advocacy groups representing the most vulnerable workers. We are also continuing our Safe + Sound initiative that engages workers in their workplace safety and health programs as well as continuing to move forward important rulemakings on hazards like heat, infectious disease and workplace violence.” - Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick“To address immediate safety concerns, MSHA has put out guidance, such as for COVID-19 and for preventing accidents following a spike in powered haulage fatalities. We also ensure that miners are not fired or retaliated against for raising complaints about hazardous working conditions. Making sure miners can continue to work, exercise their rights and thrive are our top priorities.” - Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Jeannette Galanis

How can we support a lifetime of worker empowerment?

“Worker empowerment includes everything from supporting youth as they prepare for work, to helping ill or injured workers return to work, to preparing or retraining workers for the post-pandemic economy. It also means ensuring that critical supports such as unemployment insurance meet the needs of all workers, including workers with disabilities.” - Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Taryn Williams“We will use the leverage, resources and voice of the U.S. government to empower workers worldwide so they can exercise their voice at the workplace and in the political arena; build and join democratic and independent organizations of their own choosing; and be assured decent work, and safe, healthy and inclusive workplaces.” - Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee“At VETS, our mission is to enable the full potential of veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses in the workforce. Whether they are about to transition or have been out of the service for years, we provide them with career and training resources, protect their employment rights, and help connect them with employers looking to hire.” - Acting Assistant Secretary of Veterans’ Employment and Training James Rodriguez
This Labor Day, we stand with America’s workers and the unions that support them. Learn more about our work and resources at