What are we celebrating? The contributions and achievements of the 155 million men and women who are in the U.S. workforce. Labor Day in Canada began in 1872 in Toronto but quickly made its way south to the U.S. Originally it began as a significant demonstration demanding rights for workers.
The first Labor Day was not celebrated on Monday
The first U.S. Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday (and not Monday as many would guess) September 5, 1882, in New York City, planned by the Central Labor Union. The Labor Day parade of about 10,000 workers took unpaid leave and marched from City Hall past Union Square uptown to 42nd street, and ended in Wendel’s Elm Park at 92nd Street and 9th Avenue for a concert, speeches, and a picnic.
Labor Day first become a holiday in Oregon
Oregon was actually the first state to recognize and make labor day a holiday, in 1887.
Labor Day the first Monday in September
On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. Ever since the first Monday in September most of the works are have day off! Why “most” and not all the workers? We should not forget healthcare workers and professionals still work on this day, hence a special thank you to all of them.
Haymarket Square and Labor Day
On May 4, 1886, a bomb exploded at a union rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, which led to violence that killed seven police officers and four others. The incident also led to May 1 being celebrated in most nations as Workers Day. The U.S. government chose Labor Day instead to avoid a celebration on May 1 and New York’s unions had already picked the first Monday in September for their holiday. The decision to make Labor Day the first Monday of September was approved on June 28, 1894.
The Adamson Act
In the late 1800s, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks to eke out a basic living. The year in which the 8-hour day was firmly established was 1916 with the passage of the Adamson Act. This was the first federal law regulating the hours of workers in private companies.
Who should be credited for the first New York City event?
Two people with similar names are credited with that first New York City event. Matthew Maguire, a machinist, and Peter McGuire, a carpenter, have been linked to the 1882 parade. The men were from rival unions; in 2011, Linda Stinson, a former U.S. Department of Labor’s historian, said she didn’t know which man should be credited – partially because people over the years confused them because of their similar-sounding names.
The “last day” of the summer
Even though the summer is not over, most of the people in the U.S. consider this day as the unofficial last day of the summer, before the start of the new school year.
The football season starts on or around Labor Day and many teams play their first game of the year during Labor Day weekend.