KENTUCKY (9/2/13) – Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day celebrates and pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It also constitutes a yearly national tribute to all the contributions workers have made to the prosperity, strength and well-being of our country.
Created by the labor movement that took place in the late 19th century, Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894. In the late 1800s, at the peak of the Industrial Revolution, the average American worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week in order to live a basic life.
Despite state restrictions, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled mills, factories and mines across the United States and earned a fraction of what an adult made.
On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from the City Hall to Union Square in New York City, making it the first Labor Day parade.
However, it wasn’t until May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives. This brought the worker’s rights into public viewing. By June of 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday of September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
Today, over 100 years after the first observance, there is still some doubt on who really proposed the holiday for American workers. Labor Day is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events; Labor Day also marks the end of summer to many Americans.
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