From The Oxnard Strike of 1903 to today, Hispanic Americans have been at the forefront of the fight for economic justice in the United States for more than a century. Labor leaders like Dolores Huerta, Emma Tenyuca, Cesar Chavez, Luisa Moreno, Gilberto Gerena Valentín, and countless others — along with the tens of thousands of workers who joined them— put their bodies and lives on the line to secure higher wages, promote safe working conditions, and end discriminatory labor practices. It is safe to say, that without the Latinx-led labor movements of the last century, all American workers would not enjoy many of the workplace benefits they do today.
While significant progress has been made, we still have a long way to go in ensuring that all workers are paid a living wage and have access to health care and workplace protections, and particularly for Latinxs. Today, despite having the largest labor force participation rate, Hispanic Americans still consistently bear the burden of low-wage jobs. As of 2015, on average, Hispanic men earn 69 cents and Hispanic women earn 58 cents to the dollar as compared with non-Hispanic white men. Latinxs participate in the labor force at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States and yet are the least likely to have access to paid sick leave: more than half of all Latinx workers, roughly 15 million people, are not able to earn even a single sick day.
This month and always, The Fairness Project honors the contributions of Hispanic leaders, organizers, and activists in the movement for economic justice by not only remembering their critical role in securing the worker protections we enjoy today, but also by working tirelessly to end the racial income, wealth, and benefits gap still experienced by millions of Hispanic workers today.