Saturday, August 27, 2016
History Of Labor Day Holiday
The Labor Day holiday is celebrated on the first Monday in September. This is the same day that Canada celebrates their Labor Day holiday. This year, that date is September 5, 2016.
The history of Labor Day in the U.S. goes back to the labor movement of the late 1800s and became an official federal holiday in 1894, celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events. Prior to 1894, workers who wanted to participate in Labor Day parades would forfeit a day's pay.
Over the ensuing decades, Labor has come to symbolize something else, too. In defiance of the Summer Solstice and Autumnal Equinox signaling the beginning and ending of the summer season, Labor Day has become the unofficial end of the summer season that unofficially started on Memorial Day weekend (the fourth Monday in May in the U.S.).
Labor Unions had first appeared in the late 1700s. As America changed from an agrarian society into an industrial one, these labor unions became more vocal and began to organize rallies and strikes in protest of poor working conditions and low wages. Many of these events turned violent. One prominent such incident was the Haymarket Riot of 1886 where several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. Other rallies were of a more positive nature such as September 5, 1882, when 10,000 workers took unpaid time off from their jobs and held the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history when they marched from City Hall to Union Square in New York City.
It was another 12 years before Congress legalized the holiday. This was primarily brought about on May 11, 1894, when employees at the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives. Then on June 26, the American Railroad Union called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars thus crippling railroad traffic nationwide. To break the strike, the government sent troops to Chicago. The resulting riots resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers. As a result, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in all states, the District of Columbia and the territories (many of which later became states).
And now, more than a century later, the true founder of Labor Day still hasn't been identified.