Workers in the USA are getting ready for a short work week due to the upcoming Labor Day Holiday which is celebrated on the first Monday of September each year and is September 3 this year.
This holiday was born during one of the darkest times in the country’s labor history.
At the peak of the Industrial Revolution in the USA back in the 1880s the average workday was 12 hrs. and the work week was 7 days. This was imperative to provide the basic necessities for one’s family.
Child labor was prevalent from the ages of 5 or 6 in spite of some states having restrictions in place.
This was in the days before safe and healthy work places were mandated.
As the Industrial Revolution took hold the major employment venues were factories and occupations other than agriculture which opened the door wider to labor unions that began in the end of the 18th century.
As labor unions became more organized and they sought better working conditions, fewer hours worked and more pay for the workers all which came with tremendous turmoil.
Out of the struggles came the idea of a holiday that would honor and celebrate the workers and their accomplishments.
The first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5, 1882 when 10,000 workers took a day off with no pay to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City.
An incident at the Pullman Car Company in Chicago brought their struggles to public light when in 1894 employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company, located in Chicago, organized a strike because of wage cuts and the firing of their union representatives.
These actions led to the American Railroad Union calling for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars which, in turn, would interrupt railroad traffic nationwide. This action took place on June 26 causing unrest and riots so much so that the federal government sent troops to Chicago where 12 workers died as a result.
As a gesture of the “olive branch” to American workers Congress made Labor Day a legal holiday. es
Labor Day is celebrated in America with barbecues, picnics, parades and fireworks and as the end-of summer vacation with back-to-school on the horizon.