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Photos of workers fighting for a better life to help you celebrate Labor Day

This Labor Day, put down your burger and White Claw, and spend some time thinking about the American worker.

Sure, it can be easy to take a cynical view of the holiday, signed into law by President Grover Cleveland in 1894 after he sent thousands of U.S. troops to break a railroad strike in 27 states, leading to more than 50 deaths.

While workers got a day off, the holiday didn’t do much to materially improve their lives. It wasn’t until 1938, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act, that workers got a minimum wage and 44-hour work week. (It was lowered to 40 hours two years later.)

In 2021, there is still a lot of work to do. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009. Homelessness has risen for a fourth straight year. All while CEO pay continues to skyrocket.

Here is a look at workers fighting for higher wages and better working conditions throughout U.S. history.

Striking miners in Ward, West Virginia, in 1931. 600 miners and their families faced eviction from their company-owned homes.
Credit: Bettmann Archive
A retail strike against Sears by clerks in Chicago, Illinois, in 1946.

A retail strike against Sears by clerks in Chicago, Illinois, in 1946.
Credit: Kirn Vintage Stock / Corbis via Getty Images
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leads the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" in 1963.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leads the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” in 1963.
Credit: Arnie Sachs/Mediapunch/Shutterstock
Cesar Chavez (third from right) and Coretta Scott King (fourth from right) lead a lettuce boycott march down a street in New York City circa 1973.

Cesar Chavez (third from right) and Coretta Scott King (fourth from right) lead a lettuce boycott march down a street in New York City circa 1973.
Credit: Bob Parent/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Occupy Wall Street activists protest in New York City.

Occupy Wall Street activists protest in New York City.
Credit: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images
Marjory Sidman, Dorothy Allen, Mary Carter, Eleanor Lloyd, and Nila Mack picket in front of the  Actors' Equity Association headquarters in New York City in 1919.

Marjory Sidman, Dorothy Allen, Mary Carter, Eleanor Lloyd, and Nila Mack picket in front of the  Actors’ Equity Association headquarters in New York City in 1919.
Credit: Bettmann Archive
Girls protest child labor in 1909 in New York City.

Girls protest child labor in 1909 in New York City.
Credit: Buyenlarge/Getty Images
Protesters return to the Capitol Building rotunda in Madison, Wisconsin, after Gov. Scott Walker gives a speech in 2011.

Protesters return to the Capitol Building rotunda in Madison, Wisconsin, after Gov. Scott Walker gives a speech in 2011.
Credit: Allen Fredrickson/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
A demonstrator wears a "Power to the Workers" mask during a United Mine Workers of America rally in Brookwood, Alabama on Aug. 3, 2021.

A demonstrator wears a “Power to the Workers” mask during a United Mine Workers of America rally in Brookwood, Alabama on Aug. 3, 2021.
Credit: Elijah Nouvelage / Bloomberg via Getty Images

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