For those in the USA and Canada, today is Labor Day! Have a good one and lets not forget those who worked hard to change the laws to enable us to have this time off! For those in most other parts of the world, this is equal to your International Workers Day. sammieswife.
From the late 1700s into the mid 1800s working people increasingly joined together in trade unions that would bargain collectively for the benefit of all members. In the spring of 1872, Peter McGuire, who had started his work life at age 11 to support his mother and six sisters while his father fought in the Civil War, joined 100,000 fellow workers to march the streets of New York in demand of better working conditions. It was an event that inspired him to devote himself to organizing others into effective trade unions. As the clout of these large organizations began to have positive results for the workers, Peter and some colleagues promoted the idea of a holiday in honor of the working people. It would fall halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving, in the first week of September, and be known as Labor Day.
The first Labor Day parade was held in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, organized by machinist Mathew Maguire. Twenty thousand workers paraded up Broadway with banners that read "Labor Creates All Wealth," and "Eight Hours for Work; Eight hours for Rest; Eight Hours for Recreation!" This was more of a festival than a demonstration. It was a celebration with picnics and fireworks. It was also an idea that quickly captured the interest of the nation and spread from coast to coast.
In 1894, President Grover Cleveland found himself in an election year with an unhappy constituency. The previous year, he had deployed 12, 000 federal troops to stop a strike at the Pullman company in Chicago which was interrupting mail trains and making railroad executives nervous. Violence erupted and two men were killed by U. S. deputy marshals. Though work resumed at Pullman, there were protests against Cleveland's heavy-handed methods that did not go unnoticed in Congress. As a gesture of appeasement, both houses passed legislation making the first Monday in September a national holiday honoring labor. President Cleveland quickly signed the bill into law. Labor Day was established, but Cleveland still lost his bid for reelection.
Today, Labor Day is celebrated more as the last big fling of summer than a tribute to the work we do when we're not on vacation. That may be OK. Trying to celebrate our work lives only one day a year might turn this holiday into just more work. No, I think Norman Solomon is onto something. We need to value the everyday work we do, not just once a year, but every day.