Ah… Labor Day. The unofficial last weekend of the summer, when kids get a reprieve from August back-to-school blues, and adults squeeze in one last summer vacation.  If they’re earning a livable wage.

The US Department of Labor reminds us that this first Monday in September “… constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

But tributes don’t pay the bills. Just ask the thousands of striking workers who support the goals of Fightfor15. Many of the strikers are low-paid caregivers. And more than forty million members of America’s caregiving work force aren’t paid even a penny for their work.

This Labor Day, let’s shift our thinking about how we celebrate the holiday, and pay tribute to home healthcare workers by providing them with a livable wage.  And let’s honor working family caregivers by giving them paid leave when they need to take time off to care for a loved one.

Here are 5 great articles that speak to these issues as we head into the Labor Day weekend:

Rebecca Leber – The New Republic
How Do You Get GOP Lawmakers to Support Paid Leave? Show Them That It Works.
“The states that have passed paid leave have more liberal legislatures than, say, Utah. But they’re also proof that paid leave is not necessarily a liberal concept. The argument can appeal to fiscal conservatives, who want to cut down costs in other areas of government spending. If it’s possible to change minds, then it’s also possible for the U.S. to finally join the rest of the industrialized world in offering paid leave.

Patt Morrison – LA Times
Beyond $15 an hour: The new generation of labor leaders
“Laphonza Butler is one of a new generation of labor leaders. She’s provisional president of Service Employees International Union Local 2015, a recently formed statewide local that combines home-care and nursing home worker.”

Sam Hannel – Associated Press
Federal appeals court reinstates rules giving overtime, minimum wage to home care workers
“A federal appeals court on Friday revived Obama administration regulations that guarantee overtime and minimum wage protection to nearly 2 million home health care workers.”

Susan Reinhard – AARP Blog
What Are We Doing to Support our Valuable Family Caregivers?
“The progress is encouraging, but the pace is slow. We need to do much more to prepare for an aging America and a declining number of potential family caregivers who can help. We need more meaningful public policies and private sector initiatives.”

Michelle Chen – The Nation
If You Quit Your Job to Care For a Loved One, You Could Qualify for Unemployment
“The right to care is a labor right, too, and no one should be forced to quit their livelihoods just to care for loved ones.”

Just skimming these articles will make you more aware of the gains and goals yet to be met where support for caregivers is concerned.  

And here’s another way to celebrate Labor Day: give your primary caregiver the day off.