The nation celebrates Labor Day to recognize the contributions of hard-working men, women and families across America. This year we should pause also to remember the workers on the margins who perform some of the most critical jobs in our economy.
About 11 million undocumented people live in the United States. As many as 7 million are employed in some capacity; they work in construction, agriculture, service, health care and other critical industries. They pay billions into the Social Security system each year — helping to keep it solvent — and billions more in sales, property and other taxes.
Yet our nation does not offer them workplace protections, the minimum wage or other basic benefits. According to the Interfaith Worker Justice, as many as 80 percent of undocumented workers have experienced wage theft — denial of overtime, payments of less than minimum wage or no payment at all.