What does Labor Day mean to you? To many Americans it means two things: a day off and the ending of summer. Do you know the meaning behind Labor Day though and the importance behind it?
In honor of Labor Day, we have decided to compile a fun list of interesting facts about this holiday.
Labor Day Facts: How Many Do You Know?
- Labor Day actually originated in Canada, not the United States. As part of the labor disputes in Toronto, a parade was held in 1872 protesting the 58 hour workweek. This holiday wasn’t proposed in the United States until 1882.
- The first Labor Day was observed as part of a parade held by the Central Labor Union(CLU) of New York. On September 5, 1882, approximately 10,000 workers took unpaid leave and marched in support of workers’ rights.
- On February 21, 1887, Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day an official holiday in the United States.
- In the late 1800′s, it was the common norm for adults to work 12 hour workdays, 7 days a week! And kids started working in factories starting as young as 5-6 years of age.
- As part of his political campaign, President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a nationally recognized holiday in 1894 in the United States. It has been celebrated on the first Monday of September every year since then.
- The first Labor Day “festivities” included picnics, speeches, lager beer kegs, etc.
- It’s unknown who actually started Labor Day. Some say Matthew Maguire, a machinist, proposed it while serving as secretary of the CLU. Others contest that Peter J. McGuire, of the American Federation of Labor, proposed it after witnessing a labor festival in Toronto, Canada.
- Labor Day existed two decades before the U.S. Department of Labor was established.
- Union membership was at its all time high in the 1950′s when nearly 40% of workers were union workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 11% of the work force today are union members.
Labor Day Quote
“Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country. All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man’s prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day…is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation.” - Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor