Labor Day means more than just the end of summer and a day off from school for the kids! It’s a day to celebrate the efforts of American workers and the labor unions that have fought to achieve our current rights as employees.
In the not-so-distant past, working conditions for American citizens were considerably different from what we’re accustomed to today. In the Industrial Revolution, a boom in technology created an intense need for workers, and children less than 10 years old could be found working in dangerous conditions like mines, textile and glass factories, and more. After all, they were less likely to organize than adults and could handle different tasks due to their stature.
Adults also worked in hostile conditions before achieving sweeping feats for labor rights. It was common to work 12 hour shifts with low wages and few breaks. Unions, strikes, and rallies soon began to form to protest these conditions. According to KHOU-11, “some were peaceful, including a march on September 5, 1882, in New York City that is considered the first labor day parade in U.S. history.” In 1894, then, Congress declared the first Monday of September a national holiday.
Now, there is still work to be done in developing countries and even in the United States. So what can you do in the spirit of Labor Day? Buying local is one way to help entrepreneurs in your community know the value of their hard work. Also, be kind to employees in the service sector! (Many do not receive a day off for the holiday.) American workers do their best to provide quality goods and services. Be understanding, and keep up the fight for the best labor conditions.