Happy Labor Day 2018

As if we didn’t need another reminder that summer is coming to an end, we have officially arrived to the last unofficial weekend of summer. Which can only mean one thing, Labor Day has arrived. In case you missed it Labor Day is Monday September 3rd, 2018. So what actually is Labor Day? Believe it or not it’s more than end of summer sales and back yard barbeques. What follows is a brief history of Labor Day.

Let’s start with the basic question: What is Labor Day? Labor Day celebrates the contributions and achievements of American workers. It is usually observed on the first Monday in September ever year and for most marks the unofficial end of summer. The origins of Labor Day begin in the Industrial Revolutions when most American’s were working in factories to provide for themselves and their families.

Conditions in factories during the Industrial Revolution were less than ideal and that’s putting it lightly. During this time the average American worker had a twelve hour work day, seven days a week. Add in the fact that all of this work provided workers and their families with the bare minimum to survive from day to day. Children were also forced to work at this time for half of the wages of their adult counterparts. Workers also had to deal with unsanitary working conditions with no fresh air or breaks.

Needless to say workers wanted better for themselves and decided to strike and eventually form unions to protect their rights. The unions were in response to the mentioned working conditions and wages listed above. The strikes would unfortunately get violent in most cases as union workers, and police would sometimes clash. No immediate solutions would be reached until an unlikely strike in Canada in all places.

Canadian factory workers had had enough of their own horrible conditions, and since they could not form a union as such things were illegal at the time, took it upon themselves to march to the house of the Prime Minister. It was only a matter of time before the people’s voice was heard and unions were legal which ultimately led to better conditions. Here at home, inspired by the events of what happened in Canada, New York workers would march in their own Labor Day parade in 1882.

September 5, 1882 10,000 New York workers would march to Union Square to spend the afternoon making speeches, having picnics and advocating for eight hour work days with better pay and working conditions. Eventually Labor Day or “The Working Man’s Holiday” would be born. The American workforce would continue to grow and thrive through several decades with another insurgence coming in the 1950’s. Things would take a turn in the 1990’s when factories began to shut down and jobs were being outsourced to other countries. While many have said the workforce isn’t as strong as it used to be several communities throughout the county come together to celebrate the efforts of American workers each Labor Day.

Whatever you decide to do this weekend shopping, eating, or soaking up the last precious bits of summer just remember the working man and all of his effort. You never know what he and others around you have sacrificed to get all of us here. Happy Labor Day from all of us at the Jefferson County Post!

Source: E. Lane, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer