Labor Day is a U.S. holiday that is rooted in a deep need for change or recognition.
Progressive east coast New York City unions in the late 1800s – comprised of workers who struggled under onerous and what are now illegal working conditions – banded together to rally public support by staging a parade in a New York City park.
The organizers, Central Labor Union and Knights of Labor, called the event “Labor Day.”
Held on a Tuesday, not a Monday as it is today, it was estimated that 10,000 laborers participated in the parade, demonstrating support for workers. Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894 under President Grover Cleveland.
We now take for granted an 8-hour, 5-day workweek, but in the late 1800s, employers were heavy-handed and imperious: 12- to 15-hours days, 7-day workweeks, and young children working in dangerous conditions.
As we grill brats and enjoy a day off of work, our Anderson, Helgen, Davis & Cefalu team wishes to acknowledge those who had courage to stand up for better working conditions. We appreciate and understand the employment relationship from both sides of the “parade” – those who walk as workers and those who employ workers.
We agree with the United States Department of Labor: “Labor Day… is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
by Patty Blanquies
Illustration of the first American Labor parade held in New York City on September 5, 1882 as it appeared in Frank Leslie’s Weekly Illustrated Newspaper’s September 16, 1882 issue.