Labor Day

Labor Day 2011 . . . No Holiday for the Unemployed

The first Monday in September, Labor Day, has come to mean the ending of summer . . . the closing of the swimming pool . . . a day off from work and a great excuse to have that last big backyard barbecue. Looking at today’s forecast, the traditional backyard barbecue may be an indoor event.

Labor Day originated in 1882 because of the labor movement and was to recognize the working person with a special day in their honor. Why choose the first Monday in September for the holiday? It was decided that this date would be halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. The idea became popular with labor unions and local governments around the county and gradually came to adopt Labor Day as an official holiday before it developed into a national holiday. President Grover Cleveland signed the law that recognized Labor Day as a national holiday for the working man.

I have always viewed Labor Day as an important day to celebrate. Beyond the last official day of summer, the day represents a time of remembrance of all the working people who contribute to the standard of living that as Americans we all enjoy.

Unfortunately, for many Americans, Labor Day 2011 is not a day of celebration but rather a reminder of their unemployment. A day set aside to honor workers, instead marks a time to reflect on those in this country that are without jobs. 

As the nation celebrates workers this Labor Day, many jobless Americans are losing hope.  We may hear politicians talk about Labor Day, some will march in parades, and others will take ads in newspapers saluting the American worker.  This is all very nice but no picture can be starker this Labor Day than the 14 million people in the US that are looking for work . . . that number represents 9.1 percent of our country’s labor force that wish they had a day to celebrate!

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Labor Day . . . Enjoy and Remember Why We Celebrate

The first Monday in September, Labor Day, has come to mean the ending of summer . . . the close of the swimming pool . . . a day off from work and a great excuse to have that last big backyard barbecue.  But do you know the origin of Labor Day and why we celebrate it?

A brief history of the holiday; Labor Day originated in 1882 as a result of the labor movement and was to recognize the working person with a special day in their honor.  There seems some disagreement as to who began the holiday.  Some historians credit Peter McGuire, who was the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiner and cofounder of the American Federal of Labor as the man who first advocated for the holiday.

But others have suggested that it was a Matthew Maguire who served as the secretary of the New York’s Central Labor Union as the originator of Labor Day.  Regardless, ultimately the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and official celebration on September 5, 1882 in New York City.

Why choose the first Monday in September for the holiday?  It was decided that this date would be halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.  The idea became popular with labor unions and local governments around the county and gradually came to adopt Labor Day as an official holiday before it developed into a national holiday.

President Grover Cleveland signed the law that that recognized Labor Day as a national holiday for the working man.  As an aside, Cleveland was not a labor union supporter but hoped that the legislation would help him with political damage that he had suffered earlier that same year.  During that time, Cleveland has used federal troops to thwart an American Railway Union strike in Chicago, and as a result, 34 railroad workers were killed.  Originally, the holiday was celebrated by union workers with large public demonstrations, in the form of rallies and parades.  However, as industrial centered developed the large parades became impractical giving way to family and neighborhood backyard celebrations.

As you enjoy your day off from work and your backyard barbecue, remember all the working people who contribute to the standard of living that as Americans we all enjoy. 

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