An act of Congress in 1894 made the first Monday in September a federal holiday, Labor Day, in celebration of the American worker. The genesis of the holiday was a march on City Hall in New York City on September 5, 1882, by 10,000 workers who wanted to call attention to the issues of work conditions in America. At the time, the average American worked a 12-hour day, 7 days a week. The movement that culminated in the march on City Hall accelerated the birth of labor unions and the political power of workers and their unions.
In the years following the Labor Day legislation, cities and towns nationwide sponsored massive parades and events in honor of the American worker; those activities are no longer the focal point of the holiday. Labor Day is celebrated by many in America as a symbol of the end of summer. NCAA and NFL football traditionally kick off their seasons around Labor Day weekend and many Americans squeeze one last weekend trip into the dwindling days of summer. There is little doubt that the American worker has made tremendous contributions to the development of our nation and as globalization of the work force continues, I think it’s important to remember their achievements.