Labor Day


Celebrated on the first Monday in September, Labor Day pays homage to the contributions and accomplishments of America’s workforce. Labor Day was founded by the labor movement in the late 19th Century, but it wasn’t until 1894 that it became a national holiday. For many Americans, it symbolizes the end of the summer. This year, Labor Day will be celebrated on Monday, September 4.


The story of Labor Day’s origins began at the zenith of the Industrial Revolution in America, when employees worked twelve hours a day and all seven days a week to make a living. Young children worked in mills, factories, and mines throughout the nation, earning half of adult workers’ wages.

Workers, especially lower-class citizens, and immigrants who came to America, faced very dangerous working conditions, having little access to fresh air, breaks, and sanitation equipment. For this reason, labor unions banded together in the late 19th Century, organizing strikes and rallies to stand up against poor conditions and convince their employers to renegotiate hours and payment.

Many of these events became tumultuous, like the notorious Haymarket Riot of 1886. Others led to well-established traditions. For example, on September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off from work to form a marching union from City Hall to Union Square. This was the first Labor Day parade in American history.

Twelve years later, Congress legalized what would soon become Labor Day when on May 11, 1894, workers in the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to stand up against wage cuts and the dismissals of those who supported the union. On June 26, The American Railroad Union, which was led by Eugene V. Debs, led a boycott of all Pullman railway cars.

Due to the strikes, Congress founded Labor Day as a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and nearby areas. Then-president Grover Cleveland signed the day into law. No one knows who truly founded Labor Day. But some say Peter J. McGuire, cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, did exactly that.

Celebrating Labor Day

People celebrate Labor Day in cities and towns across the country with picnics, barbecues, parades, fireworks, and other public gatherings, usually throughout the long Labor Day weekend. For many Americans, usually children and young adults, it epitomizes the beginning of the back-to-school season, as well as the summer coming to an end.

Labor Day Today

Labor Day isn’t just a day to be celebrated for the achievements of America’s workers, but it also emphasizes what is going on today. The recent Hollywood strikes are prime examples, as actors and screenwriters are going on strike to negotiate with film studios for pay increases, residuals payment adjustments, and guardrails around technologies like AI.

Job openings have been growing since January 2020, and unemployment has gradually declined. Almost two million Americans have been taking part in the labor force nowadays compared to February 2020. Labor plays a huge part in creating the goods and services of an economy. This leads to wages increasing in many industries. Simply put, Labor Day is a holiday that still resonates with us and our country, even to this day.