Labor Day is a unique holiday.
Unlike other nationally recognized holidays, it has nothing to do with the military or religion. Simply put, it is a holiday for the American worker.
While many view the first Monday in September as the unofficial end of summer, it is worth taking a look back to understand how this holiday came to be.
America’s Labor Day traces its roots back to 1872 in Canada, when workers marched through the streets in Toronto protesting long hours and working conditions. As a result of the march, Canadians were allowed to unionize and their demands were soon met.
According to history.com, on September 5, 1882, roughly 10,000 workers took unpaid time off work and marched from New York’s City Hall to Union Square, staging what is now known as the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history. Peter J. McGuire, founder of the American Federation of Labor, organized the parade after being invited to a labor parade earlier in the year in Toronto.
That same year, Matthew Maguire, secretary of the Central Labor Union, proposed a holiday for workers.
Five years later, individual states began to recognize one day each year to honor workers.
Labor Day itself did not come to be a federal holiday until the 1984 Pullman Strike in Chicago, where the military was called in to end the railroad strike. The troops and demonstrators clashed, resulting in the deaths of at least 12 workers.
Hoping to stem violence throughout the country, Congress passed legislation making the first Monday of September Labor Day. President Cleveland, hoping to repair his tarnished image following the riots, quickly signed the legislation.
Once Labor Day became an official holiday, it was initially celebrated with picnics, parades, speeches, and other promotional events designed to promote unions and the causes they stood for.
IBEW Local 104 wishes all of our members and their families and very safe and happy Labor Day.