How Did Labor Day Get Started

How Did Labor Day Get Started

Labor Day Fun Facts

If you’re like most people, you celebrate Labor Day every year by doing something fun before summer ends. But how much do you really know about Labor Day? Labor Day – a Canadian import?  In the United States, we tend to think of Labor Day as a thoroughly American holiday, but Labor Day actually has its roots in Canada.
The movement to shorten the average workday from 12 hours to nine started in Hamilton, Ontario, but quickly spread to Toronto, where it became a central demand of the Toronto Printer’s Union.

When did Labor Day become a national holiday?

On June 28, 1894, Congress passed a bill that designated the first Monday in September as an annual federal holiday to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers and their contributions to the strength and prosperity of the nation.


 When was the first observance of Labor Day?

The first observance of Labor Day was a parade on September 5, 1882, in New York City, probably organized by Peter J. McGuire, a Carpenters and Joiners Union secretary.

Giving workers an eight-hour day


Workers and labor unions had been calling for an eight-hour work day for many years, and various legislative attempts had been made to establish shorter shifts, but without much widespread success. It wasn’t until 1916, when Congress passed the Adamson Act, that the eight-hour work day gained a foothold in U.S. law as well as American culture. The Act established an eight-hour work day, with additional pay for overtime, for employees who operated trains for interstate railway carriers. The Adamson Act was the first federal legislation in the United States that regulated the hours of workers in private companies.

 Three-day weekend

 When Congress created Labor Day in 1894, and decreed that it would fall on the first Monday in September every year, it was also creating what would eventually become a three-day weekend for most Americans. At the time, most U.S. workers still toiled at least six days per week, so at best the new Labor Day holiday gave them only two consecutive days off.

 
How is Labor Day different from other holidays?

 According to Samuel Gompers, the first president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), Labor Day is the only holiday that celebrates the common man (and woman)—not religion, a war anniversary, or the birth or death of a famous person. As he wrote in The New York Times on September 4, 1910: “Among all the festive days of the year, of all the days commemorative of great epochs in the world’s history, of all the days celebrated for one cause or another, there is not one which stands so conspicuously for social advancement of the common people as the first Monday in September of each recurring year—Labor Day.”

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