Labor Day is not just the last day to wear white or have a bit of summer fun. Just over 100 years ago, Americans typically worked physically demanding jobs. Adults toiled 12 hours a day, seven days a week for low wages. Americans did not take lunch breaks. They did not get sick days or vacations. They were not protected by safety regulations.1
Children worked, too, in factories and mines. Conditions were harsh and unsafe for all.2
In 1882, the first Labor Day parade was actually a one-day strike. Ten thousand workers marched from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, carrying signs that called for ‘Less Work and More Pay,’ reported The New York Times. They risked their jobs by participating.2
The Central Labor Union of New York held the first Labor Day celebrations on September 5 in 1882 and 1883. In 1884, they moved the celebration to the first Monday of the month. This tradition spread as state governments began to officially add this day to their calendars.3
In 1894, President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a national holiday.4
We are thankful for the benefits and rights that have been afforded to us because of labor laws and the work of others.