Every first Monday in September is Labor Day, which pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. For many, it symbolizes the end of summer, and is celebrated with parties, parades and special events. But how did we get to this point, one might ask.
In the late 1800’s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, in the United States, the average American worked 12 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week, just to squeak out a living. Many had to put their young children to work in factories, mills and even mines. People of all ages, especially the poor and recent immigrants, had to endure unsafe working conditions, without access to enough fresh air or breaks.
Labor Unions quickly popped up, becoming more prominent and vocal. They helped organize strikes and rallies to protest unacceptable working conditions, and helped increase wages. On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from city hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U S history.
Although the idea of a workingman’s holiday caught on in other parts of the county, Congress would not legalize the holiday for another 12 years. There is some debate whether to credit Peter McGuire (American Federation of Labor) or Matthew Maguire (secretary of Central Labor Union) with first proposing the holiday.
Just a little history lesson on something very important to America, and about the hardships that led to the benefits we enjoy today. We still have to pursue doing the right things in the workplace, suggesting the value of our organization TSEA.
Enjoy your day off, it’s well deserved. And let’s all keep in mind where we might still be today without a unified voice.
Thanks for all your do for Tennessee.