Labor Day is a holiday that has transformed from its origins. On unpaid leave, 10,000 workers protested by marching on New York’s City Hall and the concept of a “workers’ holiday” was born.
Horrific work conditions through the 1800’s Industrial Revolution, 12 hr days, 7 day work weeks, child labor and deadly conditions for the poor and immigrants led to strikes and protests championed by newly created labor unions.
Next, Chicago’s Haymarket labor strike of 1886 led to deadly riots with the death of workers and police. A decade later (1894) a rail car company retaliated against worker’s rights with wage cuts and union firings, resulting in a railroad boycott that brought American commerce to a halt. Federal troops were sent to Chicago to break the strike causing riots and the death of over a dozen workers. At the cost of many lives, workers rights finally took center stage. Progress was made. And to calm the unrest, the 1894 Congress declared Labor Day a legal holiday to honor the American workforce.
Enjoy the day, but do take a moment to think of those who gave their lives for humane working conditions. And those continuing the struggle today for equal pay, a living wage and equality in the workforce ⚘
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