Labor Day 2017 is celebrated in the United States on September 4th. Having a day off is a nice way to celebrate the end of summer. But what is the day intended to commemorate?
Labor Day was created to highlight the miserable working conditions in the late 19th century. According to History.com, the average American worked 12-hour days, seven days a week to eke out a basic living. Children as young as five or six were often forced to work in mills, factories and mines, despite child labor laws in many states.
Because of the long hours, unsafe and unsanitary working conditions and poor treatment by management, labor unions organized and workers began holding strikes and protest rallies. Unfortunately, these events often turned into dangerous riots. The violence of the Haymarket Square Riot in Chicago included a bomb thrown at police and resulted in at least eight deaths.
As people sought a more peaceful way to protest for better working conditions, the idea of a “labor holiday” caught on. According to the US Department of Labor, our current Labor Day evolved out of a parade of unions and a massive picnic in New York City on September 5th, 1882. The event didn’t go as smoothly as planned, probably because of the “abundance of cigars and Lager beer kegs mounted in every conceivable place.”
Over time more states created their own Labor Day holiday, then in, June 1894, the Congress of the United States passed an act making the first Monday in September a legal holiday dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.
So, relax on Monday, September 4th (possibly with a cold beer in your hand) and say a silent thank you to the hardworking men and women from the late 1800’s for all they did to improve working conditions.
As for me, I’m eating chocolate cake!
The road is easier together,