This long Labor Day weekend comes to us all as a legacy gift from a generation of labor activists who created the modern labor movement in America during the 1880s by agitating for worker rights.

Their efforts and sacrifices ultimately gave us concepts like the eight-hour workday and the weekend as well as a host of ongoing protections and benefits for workers.

In their honor, as well as the recognition of the vital contribution that workers make to our collective quality of life, national leaders in 1894 established a federal holiday for laborers and the concept of collective bargaining on the first Monday in September.

While union membership is down today from what it was in the 1950s, there are still about 12 million workers that are unionized through the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

In addition, a host of independent, entrepreneurial workers also have become integral to today’s economy.

To commemorate this Labor Day holiday, Voice of OC connected with a host of different workers during their workday.

Juana Ruiz, a 57 year old Santa Ana resident works out of a cart selling fruits, refreshments and snacks. Her cart is open for business seven days a week. Juana’s 35 year old daughter occasionally helps– allowing a day off for Juana. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Miguel Perez, 35, prepares a vegan rice dish at the Santa Ana Gypsy Den where he has been cooking and developing recipes for two years. Miguel is also a part-time cook at Market Broiler in Orange. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Sandra Lopez, 40, commutes from Anaheim to Santa Ana to her bridal shop, “Cassandra’s Bridal” where she works as a seamstress, dress designer and event planner in Santa Ana. Her job demands attention to detail, and sturdy and steady hands to sew for hours on end. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Being a member of a four man team for SAPD, Frank Aragon, 50, patrols the downtown area of Santa Ana for minor crimes and provides assistance to the homeless population. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Juana Ruiz, a 57 year old Santa Ana resident works out of a cart selling fruits, refreshments and snacks. Her cart is open for business seven days a week. Juana’s 35 year old daughter occasionally helps– allowing a day off once in a while. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
La Santa Modern Cantina located in Santa Ana, is situated in a street corner of the East End Downtown. Luis Alvarado, 41 of Santa Ana can serve up a Michelada in less than a minute to quench your thirst. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Delilah Snell, 43, pours out beer from the tap. The beer is then infused with house signature spices. Her restaurant, Alta Baja, is located in the East End of Downtown Santa Ana. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Fernando Cabrera, (right) 44, and Joe Lara, (right) drive from Ontario and surrounding areas making deliveries throughout the day. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Mike Jensen, 54, a former construction worker, delivers alcohol to a local Santa Ana bar. Residing in Huntington Beach, he drives daily around Orange County to make his deliveries. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Ending his workday, Richard Ortega, 40, rolls his cart of electrician tools through the lobby of his job site in Santa Ana, CA. Through the long and temperamental hours at construction sites Richard says he is grateful for the work and “does it for his family.” Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

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