The Meaning Behind Labor Day and Why We Celebrate

Every year we get together on the first weekend of September to celebrate Labor Day which has come to symbolize the end of summer, but thats not what the holiday was created for.

The industrial revolution in the 1800's had most Americans working major overtime -- 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week, just to make a basic living. And even though some states had restrictions against it, children aged 5 or 6 would work in factories, mills, and mines only to earn a fraction of what their adult coworkers would. No matter their age, workers would face harsh working conditions, little to no access to fresh air, and very few breaks.

With the boom of industrial employment came the creation of labor unions. First organized in the late 18th century, the unions started organizing workers and striking and protesting the hazardous conditions and grueling working schedule. Many of the strikes and protests became violent where police officers and workers were killed.

With the idea of a "working man's holiday," in the water supply, on September 5th, 1882 10,000 workers took unpaid leave to hold a march from City Hall to Union Square in NYC which essentially became the first Labor Day parade in US history.

The holiday, celebrated on the first Monday of September, would quickly be adopted by other laborers and states across the country until it was deemed a federal holiday by Congress and signed into law by Grover Cleavland in 1894.

But why on a Monday? The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968. This law was passed to literally give workers more 3 day weekends and changed several holidays to be celebrated on Mondays. Some of them are Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, and Columbus Day.

So as you're out enjoying your 3 day weekend (or even 4 day weekend if you try hard enough), remember that we're celebrating the worker and the value they create for companies and our country. Although many can argue that we've got to take another look at how much time we spend working now, the Labor Movement and unions are the reason why we have a 40-hour workweek and weekends to enjoy ourselves in the first place.

As we come out of a global pandemic, worker protections are so important and so are the unions and organizations that create them.

Celebrate Labor Day weekend in style, be grateful for and thank wage workers who serve you and keep in mind what we're celebrating!

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