The observance of Labor Day began over 100 years ago.
Conceived by America’s labor unions as a testament to their cause, the legislation creating the holiday was shepherded through Congress and signed by president Grover Cleveland in 1894. Since then, Labor Day has been celebrated on the first Monday in September. It has become the unofficial end of summer.
The first Labor Day parade was held on September 5, 1882 in New York City. Twenty thousand workers marched up Broadway carrying banners that read “LABOR CREATES ALL WEALTH,” and “EIGHT HOURS FOR WORK, EIGHT HOURS FOR REST, EIGHT HOURS FOR RECREATION!”
The roots of Labor Day stretch back to what was known as the eight hour day movement. In 1817, a Welsh mill owner, Robert Owen, formulated the goal of the eight-hour day and coined the slogan.
The International Workingmen’s Association, many of whom were socialists or anarchists, favored a May 1 holiday. With the event of the Chicago Haymarket riots in May 1886, president Grover Cleveland believed that a May 1 holiday could become an opportunity to commemorate the riots. Fearing that it might strengthen the socialist movement, he eventually supported a September Labor Day.
Is an eight-hour workday the standard anymore?