Labor Day. When I was a kid I had mixed emotions about Labor Day. Labor Day meant the end of summer. It also meant that when you went to bed on Labor Day evening you'd wake up to the excitement of the first day of a new school year. Not many schools start the day after Labor Day any more. Now Labor Day is a day off after a few weeks of a new school year.
A day off. That's what kids think Labor Day is. It is also a day off for workers - which is its original intended purpose. Here are the facts of how Labor Day came to be a holiday:
- Workers used to work in harsh conditions with long hours and very little pay. Children were also subject to working under the same conditions as adults.
- Labor unions sprung up to fight for workers. They worked to get the US worker higher wages with less working time and to protect children from working at a young age.
- Peter McGuire started the first Labor Day rally in 1872. Tired of working in horrendous conditions he got 100,000 workers to go on strike and march through the streets of New York City demanding a better work environment for all.
- In 1882 McGuire proposed that workers deserved their own holiday. On September 5, 1882 10,000 workers marched in the streets of New York City for the first Labor Day Parade.
- In 1884 the celebration was moved to the first Monday of September.
- In 1894 Congress passed a law making Labor Day a national holiday.
Kids should know that it was the work of the labor unions that ensured they would not be spending their days working in factories rather than in school. And they can thank Peter McGuire for this day off of school.