We hope you have a fantastic upcoming extended weekend. Although, I feel, the end of summer is a bit sad, there is much to look forward to come fall: beautiful mild temperature days, family visits to the pumpkin patch, leaves changing color, Halloween, and of course… football season. The shift always begins on the first Monday of September, or better known as Labor Day.
While most everyone is a fan of Labor Day and the three-day weekend, the history isn’t as well known. Labor Day is dedicated to the achievements of American workers and a celebration of how important they are. The state which first created the holiday, by legislative enactment, was Oregon on February 21, 1887; soon followed by Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York (the first state to propose Labor Day as an official holiday). By June 28, 1894, Congress made Labor Day an official holiday to be celebrated on the first Monday of September throughout all of the US.
Labor Day comes from one of the worst time periods to work in the trade, the Industrial Revolution. Many Americans worked 12 hour a day, seven days a week, and close to 365 days a year. In some states, families had to send children as young as 5 years old into the workforce, just to get by. With little regulation, workers were forced into extremely unsafe and unsanitary working conditions. With no other options, they had to take the chance in order to keep food on the table.
Eventually, enough was enough. Labor unions formed and, throughout the beginning of the 18th century, they grew larger and more vocal. For the first time, a group was standing up for the working man. Strikes, protests and rallies started to take place, demanding safe/clean working conditions and realistic pay. On September 5, 1882, over 10,000 workers left work to march from City Hall to Union Square, this would later be known as the first Labor Day Parade in New York City. The Unions made significant progress and eventually the idea of a “workingman’s holiday” started to float around.
In 1894, Eugene V. Debs of the American Railroad Union called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling all railroad traffic throughout the US. This eventually led to riots and the deaths of many protestors, leaving government and worker relations severed. In an attempt to gain the trust of the American workforce, Congress officially passed the act to make Labor Day a legal holiday in the United States.
To this day, there is still a debate of who came up with the original idea of Labor Day. Many credit Peter J. McGuire, cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, while others argue it was actually Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, who originally proposed the idea.
Whether it was McGuire or Maguire, Labor Day is now a weekend that is always circled on the calendar. Working hard is part of our culture at DWM. We take pride in knowing we can add value and better the lives we touch every day. At the same time, we don’t take for granted the people whom we collaborate with and who allow us to provide more comprehensive service to our clients. So while it is a great weekend to barbeque with the family, it is also a great time to reflect on all of the hard labor done before us in order to make our lives better.