Today is a day often enjoyed because we all get a day off, however this day emerges as a celebration of workers and their achievements.
History of Labor Day
Beginning in the late 1800s at the peak of the Industrial Revolution, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to sustain basic living. It was common that children as young as 5 worked in mills and factories. Paired with this is the extremely unsafe working conditions which failed to provide fresh air, restrooms, and breaks. labor unions grew more prominent and vocal, organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to reconsider hours and pay. On September 5th of 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.
Amidst this massive unrest, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed it into law. More than a century later, the true founder of Labor Day has yet to be identified. Ironically, businesses take advantage of this day off to lure customers into stores. The annual Labor Day Sale was then born, and many people in the retail industry see Labor Day not as a day off but as a busy day of work.
How Labor Day is Celebrated
Today, Labor Day is still celebrated in cities and towns across the United States with parades, picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays and other public gatherings. Labor Day also serves as a marker of when summer ends and school begins.
Labor strikes and unions still exist today, and in total have earned us our weekend days off, lunch breaks, paid vacation, eight-hour workday, and social security. Acknowledge the significance of this day by starting conversations about corporations, and if their employees’ working conditions and hours are ethical, and what can or should be done to improve them.