Monday, September 4, marks Labor Day, the annual federal holiday recognizing and celebrating the contributions and achievements of American workers. Many Americans have the day off and celebrate with family or friends, holding cooking outs, BBQs, and picnics. Labor Day also is the unofficial end of summer and the start of the new school year.
History of American Labor
Labor Day is one of eleven Federal Holidays recognized by the U.S. Government, giving non-essential government employees the day off and closing most government offices, such as post offices. Many private companies and businesses are also closed and give employees the day off or pay overtime to those who do work. The labor movement created Labor Day in the late 19th century in response to the poor treatment of workers during the Industrial Revolution. At that time, the average American worked 12-hour days, seven days a week, in often unsafe and unsanitary working conditions for a basic living. Children as young as 5 or 6 worked in mills, factories, and mines across the country.
On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers marched from City Hall to Union Square, the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history. Many states passed legislation recognizing a “Workingman’s holiday.” Oregon was the first, followed by Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. The federal government finally legalized the holiday 12 years later, in 1894.
In addition to BBQs and parties, many take advantage of Labor Day sales at local and national retail outlets, enjoy outdoor recreation activities, or take 3-day weekend trips. However you decide to spend your Labor Day, be sure to recognize your own achievements and contributions at your workplace.
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