Many people don’t know that this federal holiday (which is also the unofficial end of summer) dates all the way back to the late 1800s! But how did it evolve into what we know today?
Beginnings in Labor History
Labor Day is known as a “workingman’s/workingwomen's” holiday, one that celebrates the contributions that workers across the United States have made to the “strength, prosperity, and well-being” of the country, according to the US. Department of Labor. After all, employees keep the ideas flowing, the machines turning, and the economy moving!
Originally, the idea of this holiday began with the labor movement during the U.S. Industrial Revolution, where many workers were working 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. Poverty was still rampant, particularly for recent immigrants, who were discriminated against and faced harsh working conditions. In some states, children even worked in factories, mines, and mills, starting as early as age five!
Manufacturing took center stage as the country’s main employment source, and labor unions began to give voice to the average worker. Their mission was to bring awareness to deadly working conditions, as well as try to convince employers to offer better hours and competitive wages.
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