We celebrate it every year with picnics, parades, and last-gasp trips to the beach. But do we really know what Labor Day stands for? Here’s a quick glimpse back at this annual holiday.
The rise of labor unions occurred in the late 18th century as manufacturing began to overtake agriculture as the major economic engine in the United States. The unions served as the voice of employees to battle poor working conditions, including long hours and low pay.
As they gained more strength and prominence, unions started organizing rallies, strikes, and other activities to underscore their cause. One of those events was a march on September 5, 1882, by 10,000 workers in New York City, according to historians, who consider this the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.
Over the next 12 years, several states passed legislation that adopted the Labor Day holiday. Congress then declared it a federal holiday in 1894, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That move was prompted by developments surrounding the Pullman Palace Car Company.
On May 11, 1894, company employees went on strike in Chicago to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives. Six weeks later, a boycott of all Pullman railway cars was called for by the American Railroad Union, which tied up railroad traffic around the country.
In response, the federal government ordered troops to Chicago, sparking riots that resulted in the deaths of more than 12 workers. To calm the nation and heal the strife with union workers, Congress passed an act in late June of that year making Labor Day a legal holiday. The first Monday in September was chosen as the official date for the annual celebration.
The United States Department of Labor has recognized the importance of Labor Day on its website, devoting sections to its history as well as what it’s doing to protect American workers. You can learn more by going to www.dol.govAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.BankFive.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of BankFive.com. Come back soon!.
This Labor Day, please take the time to acknowledge all that the American workforce has done to make this country great.