This Labor Day, I'm thinking about workers. Not the workers who are enjoying the holiday at home with their families but the ones who are forced to work 12 hours or more a day and up to seven days a week. These workers are victims of human trafficking, specifically labor trafficking.
In her editorial, Cantrell talks about the realities of human trafficking but also identifies ways for readers to take action. She recommends:
• Learn more:Can you leave your job if you want to? Are you in debt to your employer? Is your employer paying you? The answers to these questions could reveal that a worker is subject to forced labor. Learn more "red flags" from a national group like Polaris Project. If you believe someone has been forced or coerced to work, call or text the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
• Take action: Your church or community group can host a forum, fundraiser, or community service project to raise awareness about forced labor. For example, advocates distribute chapsticks with the national hotline number at human trafficking hotspots across the state, which your group can help assemble. Victims' services groups like Catholic Charities in Louisville need basic items (furniture, gift cards, baby products) to help victims with short term housing.
• Spend conscientiously: Voting with your dollar is the most powerful thing you can do. Some everyday products like chocolate and coffee are tainted with child labor or forced labor. Research fair trade products and incorporate a couple of them into your regular shopping list.
On this Labor Day, what will you do to raise awareness of human and labor trafficking? How will you take action to end slavery, an injustice which Harriet Beecher Stowe herself fought to end through her anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin and subsequent activism?
Images courtesy of The Polaris Project.