Labor Day, the first Monday in September, not only does it mark the end of the summer and the back-to-school blues, it’s a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. We celebrate a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
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 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. Then, in 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.
Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor the American worker. Other records show 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.
For more than 100 years the Labor Day celebration remains a tribute to much of the nation’s strengths, freedoms, and leadership — the American worker.
Happy Labor Day!!