Most people recognize Labor Day simply as the informal beginning of Fall or as just an extra day off to spend at the beach or BBQ’ing with family and friends.
But all of you, as Union members, should feel a special pride the first Monday in September. Without the Unions taking charge and demanding workplace change, the horrible conditions adults and children alike were forced to toil under would have continued much longer.
During the late 19th century as America continued to grow and prosper, manufacturing took the place of agriculture as the number one employment option. But there were no rules or guidelines to protect the workers. Most people worked seven days a week, 12 to 16 hours a day often in unsafe and dirty conditions.
As dissatisfaction grew over these conditions informal Labor Unions began to organize, staging rallies and work strikes demanding better working conditions and wages. As with anything worth fighting for there were struggles and often these strikes turned violent but the Unions persevered.
The original Labor Day holiday was celebrated on September 5th, 1882 when over 10,000 workers left their jobs and marched from City Hall to Union Square in New York demanding the same changes the Union leaders were fighting for. Finally in 1885 the first Monday in September was formally decreed the “workingman’s holiday” and began to receive state and then federal recognition.
As proud members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, take a moment this coming Labor Day to remember and say “thank you” to all the Union leaders and members who worked so diligently for the silent majority.
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