Happy May & Labor Day

Posted on May 1, 2019 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Best Wishes – Plus Free Employment Training – from Catholic Charities NY

By Alice Kenny

Not just a day of daffodils and dances around maypoles – although we’re certainly grateful for that! – but May Day here at Catholic Charities NY and in much of the world marks a special day for celebrating workers, workers’ rights and all we do to empower people through an honest day’s work.

May Day’s Labor Day history is powerful, bloody and transformative.  Its roots trace back to May 1, 1886 when 200,000 exhausted workers across the nation stood up to the police and the powerful, striking for an eight-hour work day. 

Bloody, but ultimately successful, that strike kicked off worker rights many of us now take for granted.  Forty-hour work weeks.  Safety gear.  Breaks for lunch and days off for illness.

Wage Violations Continue

Yet, nearly 150 years later, employers still take advantage of huge swaths of workers.  Day laborers, typically immigrants lacking legal documentation, often labor at below-minimum wage working 12-hour days and seven-day weeks.  They work without safety gear, without breaks and, worse still, often are left unpaid by unscrupulous employers.

“They are afraid, frightened they’ll be deported,” says Catholic Charities Yonkers Day Laborer Director Janet Hernandez.  “They tell me ‘in this country I don’t exist.’”

The sad reality is immigrants are common targets for exploitation.  Dishonest landlords, employers, “notarios” and attorneys often prey on immigrants’ fears.  Catholic Charities’ qualified staff works to prevent this exploitation.  We provide honest information in multiple languages, employment support, advocacy and solid legal advice.  

Employed and Empowered

Men and women struggling with disabilities, teens growing up in struggling neighborhoods, men and women out of work also too often count among New Yorkers left behind in the booming economy.  Thanks to Catholic Charities NY’s myriad of job-training and employment-support programs tailored to specific needs many who would otherwise have been left behind are now employed and empowered.

A decent job is the key to decent housing, financial stability and dignity. But finding a job can be tough, particularly for the most vulnerable. Young people entering the workforce, those aging out of foster care, immigrants, persons with disabilities and the long-term unemployed have a particularly hard time finding work. 

Catholic Charities helps job seekers develop concrete skills. We offer employment training and placement programs geared for specific needs. Our services also include classes to pass TASC (formerly GED) exams, master English and develop job skills.  And we help develop the experience and confidence needed to hold a job and maintain independence.


So happy May Day to all New Yorkers.  Happy original Labor Day to all those with jobs.

And if you’re looking for work, Catholic Charities NY is here to make you happy, too.

Please contact Catholic Charities to find out about our free employment assistance programs for New Yorkers

Catholic Charities is responding to the needs of our neighbors during the 
COVID-19 pandemic.

For Help Call 888-744-7900