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The History of Labor Day


To most of us, Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer marked by a 3-day long weekend and celebrated with barbecues, water fun and retail sales. However, most Americans are unaware of what actually inspired the creation of this holiday.

Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day is dedicated to the labor movement, which celebrates the social and economic achievements of the American workers.

Here are some historical facts about the labor movement:

  • It started around the industrial revolution (late 19thcentury).
  • Advances in technology created manufacturing jobs.
  • Industrial workers created unions to rally for safer working conditions, fair pay and benefits.
  • In the late-1800s, the average American worked as much as 100 hours a week! As people enjoyed steady employment, they compromised their rights in the workplace.
  • Unions held strikes to demand shorter work weeks and an 8-hour workday to make time for family and health. The most famous labor riots, The Haymarket Riots in Chicago, happened in Chicago on May 1st, 1886.
  • The labor movement also protested child labor. In 1881, unions demanded businesses stop hiring children under the age of 14.
  • In 1938, Congress passed the law called the Fair Labor Standards Actthat set the 40-hour work week, regulated child labor, set standards for minimum wage and overtime pay.
  • Between 1930s and 1940s, workers were also able to negotiate health benefit plans from employers.

Undeniably, the labor movement forever changed the way Americans live, work and even relax.

Have a happy, safe, and relaxed Labor Day weekend!