A History of Labor Day

Labor Day 2019 is on Monday, September 2nd.  To most of us this means a long weekend but it also signifies the end of summer as students head back to class and Halloween decorations fill the stores.

But why do we celebrate Labor Day?  This is an annual holiday that celebrates workers and their achievements.  It originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters back in the late 1800’s.  The average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living and children toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country; earning a fraction of what adults were being paid.

People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with not enough access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.

As the result of this, labor unions grew more prominent and vocal.  They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest the poor conditions and force employers to renegotiate hours and pay.

On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the very first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.  The idea of a workingmen’s holiday, celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial cities.  Congress legalized the holiday 12 years later in 1894.  President Grover Cleveland signed it into law on June 28, 1894.  However, the true founder of the Labor Day holiday has never been identified.

In our modern day, with all our conveniences, it’s too easy to forget history.  It takes labor to make anything of high value. We are proud to partner with a reputable manufacturer like Haworth which supports families right here in Michigan. On this Labor Day weekend, try to remember all the workers, current and in the past, who work so hard to make our lives better.