What is the meaning of Labor Day?
We all tend to look at Labor Day as a celebration of a long weekend, cookouts, parades and the end of summer vacations. Many consider this the official end of summer and the beginning of the fall season.
But there is a true meaning and background to Labor Day.
Here’s how the U.S. Labor Department describes the holiday: “It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.”
The Central Labor Union held the first Labor Day celebration in 1882 in New York City. The AFL-CIO, which represents about 12.2 million members, says that first holiday was marked by a march to demand an eight-hour workday and other labor law reforms. About 20,000 workers made their way up Broadway carrying signs that read “Labor Creates All Wealth” and “Eight Hours for Work, Eight Hours for Rest, Eight Hours for Recreation.” (The AFL-CIO site offers a chronological look at such events via a timeline.)
Who was the Founder of Labor Day?
Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”
But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic. (http://erstarnews.com/2011/08/29/what-does-labor-day-mean-to-us/)
So while we are enjoying our three day weekend, cookouts and last summer vacations stop and think about the true meaning of this holiday. Labor Day directly affects each and every one of us.
Enjoy your weekend and take a minute on Labor Day to remember the true meaning of the day.