Labor Day, 2009
Fly your U.S. flag today. This is one of the dates designated in law as a permanent date for flag flying.
Here are some past posts on labor, and Labor Day:
History-minded people may want to look at the history of the holiday, such as the history told at the Department of Labor’s website.
The First Labor Day
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.
In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.
On September 5, 1882, some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City to participate in America’s first Labor Day parade. After marching from City Hall to Union Square, the workers and their families gathered in Reservoir Park for a picnic, concert, and speeches. This first Labor Day celebration was initiated by Peter J. McGuire, a carpenter and labor union leader who a year earlier cofounded the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, a precursor of the American Federation of Labor.
McGuire had proposed his idea for a holiday honoring American workers at a labor meeting in early 1882. New York’s Central Labor Union quickly approved his proposal and began planning events for the second Tuesday in September. McGuire had suggested a September date in order to provide a break during the long stretch between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. While the first Labor Day was held on a Tuesday, the holiday was soon moved to the first Monday in September, the date we continue to honor.
What do the unions say? Among other parts of history, the AFL-CIO site has a biography of Walter Reuther, the legendary organizer of automobile factory workers — September 1 is the anniversary of Reuther’s birthday (he died in an airplane crash on the way to a union training site, May 10, 1970).
We’re glad to have the day off. Working people made this nation, and this world, what it is today. We should honor them every day — take a few minutes today, give honor to workers. Tomorrow, it’s back to work.
- Labor Day facts from the U.S. Census Bureau 2009
- Labor Day facts from the U.S. Census Bureau 2008 (7.1 million teachers in the U.S.)
- “Your Rights as a Worker,” Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration
- History of Labor Unions, “100 Years of Struggle and Success,” interactive piece from AFL-CIO
- Labor Day site from USA.gov
- Interesting stroll through the history of Labor Day as revealed by the archives of the New York Times, with good commentary, at Happily Bitter