Authored By: Iris Garrett
It’s back to work for many of us now that Labor Day has come and gone, but have you ever stopped to think why you get the holiday off? It’s because Labor Day has a distinct place in American history.
According to the Department of Labor, the holiday was created to celebrate “the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.” However, though its objective may be clear, the realization of Labor Day was not as cut and dry. The holiday is deeply rooted in the labor movement of the 1800s, particularly an organized parade held in New York on September 5, 1882. Noah Ryman of Time Magazine says it was on that day that union leaders called for a “monster labor festival” which ended up attracting nearly 10,000 marchers. Not long after that, the first Monday of September was chosen to be the unions' “workingmen’s holiday,” but there were still a few obstacles to face before the entire country would officially celebrate the day.
One of those obstacles was the Haymarket Affair, which brought about a similar yet unofficial holiday, International Workers’ Day. On May 4, 1886, a peaceful protest over long hours turned deadly when someone threw a bomb and killed a Chicago police officer. Ryman says authorities still don’t know how many others were killed that day, but four people allegedly tied to the incident were hanged. Less than a year later, the Department of Labor says Oregon became the first state to recognize Labor Day as a holiday, and in 1896, President Grover Cleveland declared it a national one. The May date, however, is only officially celebrated in other countries as a day to honor workers.
It has been 120 years since the Labor Day declaration, but many of the same challenges that faced workers then are still being fought now. Fortunately, like unions, there are many plaintiff law firms out there hoping to protect workers’ rights and help them overcome issues like wrongful termination, discrimination, or harassment. Advocate Capital, Inc. supports the plight of those lawyers and the clients they serve. We hope that you will join us in celebrating their work, as well as all the social and economic achievements of American workers around the country, not just on Labor Day, but every day of the year.
Photo Credit: yupiramos