Labor Day is so much more than the end to summer and cookouts and gatherings. Of course this year the holiday weekend still looks a little bit different – at least for us it does. Covid has not gone away so we are not gathering in large groups or having big doings here at our house.
This year marks the 139th Labor Day and while many folks know the history behind the holiday I thought it might be time for a refresher course.
New York was the first state to introduce a bill to write the holiday into state legislation. Oregon, though, became the first state to pass it into law in 1887. Way to go, Oregon.
The first official celebration of Labor Day was in Manhattan in 1882 with the promise of lots of beer. The police were a bit concerned about the raucous nature the event might cause so they were prepared with a strong show of force. However, attendance was sparse. No music, no festivities made the few in attendance almost decide to leave. That is until a couple. hundred people from the Jewelers Union showed up and then the party started. Who would have thought jewelers would have been the ones to lead the party? Apparently after the parade the most common sighting was of beer kegs.
What role did women play in the whole labor movement? A big one. The Department of Labor was the first department led by a woman: Frances Perkins. Perkins helped lead President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration through much needed changes after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, in which 146 people died.
So what do we really need to be celebrating today?
A great deal!
If you like not having to work weekends and having a 40 hour work week as well as paid holidays and vacation you have labor leaders to thank today. Through the years many people have worked hard to get labor laws written and enforced to make a better working environment for everyone.
But this Labor Day perhaps I am the most thankful for those essential workers who continue to work the front lines during the ongoing pandemic. The medical folks, the food service folks, the emergency personnel and all who have worked and continue to work tirelessly for our country as we try to just get through a pandemic. THANK YOU.