Labor Day is the symbolic end of summer for many in the United States. It signifies an end to the carefree attitude that often accompanies summer, as kids return to school, and working parents must again start worrying about having everyone to the right place at the right time during the school year. It is those working parents and everyone in the working world, however, that Labor Day was created to honor. There are many interesting facts about Labor Day, as it is much more than just picnics and lamentations of the end of summer. Did you know:
• Labor Day is not unique to the United States; it is also celebrated in Canada.
• Many other countries celebrate May Day as a holiday similar to Labor Day.
• President Grover Cleveland established Labor Day as the first Monday of September. It was first observed on September 5th, 1882 as over 10,000 workers marched in a parade in New York City to demand workers’ rights. At this time in history, it was not uncommon for workers to have workdays of over 15 hours.
• The first state bill for the creation of Labor Day was introduced in the New York State Legislature. However, the first state to actually pass and institute Labor Day as a legal holiday was Oregon. It instituted Labor Day in 1887.
• 23 additional states passed Labor Day as a legal holiday by 1894. It was in that year that Grover Cleveland pushed the bill through Congress in order to combat labor protests that were beginning to occur. That year, Labor Day was celebrated as a national holiday in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It is also a legal holiday in the territories of the United States.
• There are estimated to be 15.8 million labor union workers across the country.
• Detroit, Michigan is considered to be the heart of the labor movement in the United States.
Labor Day, then is more than just a day to put your white pants in the back of the closet and hit the last minute back-to-school sales. It is a day to recognize the millions of men and women who have endured difficult working conditions throughout America’s history and who still work long hours today to support their families. As you enjoy Labor Day picnics and barbecues this year, use the time to recognize those in your family who are members of the working population.