Labor Day is a big event in the United States. Every year, the United States celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday in September. The day is celebrated to honor the contributions and achievements of the American workers, who are pivotal for the development and advancement of the country. Labor Day, which was established in the late 19th century by the labor movement, was in the year 1894 declared a federal holiday.
The history of the Labor Day can be traced back to the times when the American workers used to work for exceedingly long hours and in dismal conditions, which included unhealthy working condition and sanitary facilities. When the industrial revolution was at its height in the United States in the late 1800s, an American worker would work a 12 hour shift all seven days of the week. All this effort was made just to earn a basic living wage. Even children were made to work and were paid a fraction of what adults were being paid.
Gradually the manufacturing sector became the main source of employment and with it the labor unions also began to make their mark. With time they grew more prominent and vocal and started to organize strikes and rallies to force the employers to provide workers with reasonable pay and work conditions. The first Labor Day parade in the history of the United States was held when on September 5, 1882, some 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to organize a march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City
The idea of a holiday for workers caught on and many states of the country passed legislation recognizing it. However, the Congress legalized the Labor Day as a holiday 12 years later following a wave of riots and massive unrest.
The founder of Labor Day
Labor Day is being for more than 100 years but it is still not clear as to who actually started the movement. According to some records, the day seems to have been founded by Peter J. McGuire. He was the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor. However, according to others it was Matthew Maguire, a machinist, who established the holiday.
Labor Day legislation
It was through the municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886 that the government recognized the day. This started a movement to secure state legislation for Labor Day. The first state bill was introduced in the New York legislature. However, on February 21, 1887, the first to become a law was passed by Oregon. By the end of 1887, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York had passed a legislation to create Labor Day. By the end of the decade, Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed in the footsteps of these four states. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday. June 28, 1894, the Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
Why is Labor Day celebrated?
Though as times have changed, the labor unions are witnessing a decline in many countries around the world. However, Labor Day has not lost its significance. Today, it holds the same appeal and inspiration for the 21st century worker as it was for the 19th and 20th century workers. The day is basically a tribute for the achievements and contributions of the workers to the development of their respective countries. Over the years the events has gained international significance and today is being celebrated by workers all over the world.
Labor Day dates according to Year
Last Updated on: September 4, 2015