Celebration of Labor Day Honors Workers
Celebration of Labor Day is honored in the United States on the first Monday of September. It has a long history as it was first celebrated in 1882. This was a time, in American history, when there was great unrest and protests from workers’ union due to the poor working conditions the employees faced. Most workers were on the job for 12-hours, seven days a week and received very small wages. There were few benefits given the employees.
Many Workers Were Killed
During the last decade of the 19th century there were a remarkable number of strikes – 37,000. Between 1870 and 1914 it was reported that 500 to 800 American workers were killed during labor stoppages. According to the Washington Post the deaths resulted from the military, state militia and local police. Edward T O”Connell, a historian, wrote, “Each year between 1880 and 1900 an average of 35,000 industrial workers were killed on the job and another half-million were injured.”
Changes slowly came about as Congress passed legislation to celebrate Labor Day. The first celebration, in 1882 brought a crowd of 10,000 workers who marched through the streets of New York after taking an unpaid day-off.
Labor Day does not offer any rituals aside from shoppers out looking for bargains. Some families join together for barbecuing. For others it is the day the family returns home from their vacation. To others the day marks the last weekend of summer and the beginning of the new school year.
The founders had planned something different for the day. They were looking for two things: a means of unifying union workers and a reduction in the hours of work.