The Lost Meaning of Labor Day

September 4th, 2017

Nowadays, we have got used to associating this day with the last warm days, the beginning of school year, family barbecue, and weekend-long sales. However, if we refer to the American history, Labor Day occurred not as a holiday. Initially, in the 19th century, the American labor movement activists fought for fair wages and proper working conditions. Moreover, people were trying to eradicate the child labor and establish an eight-hour working day in the fight for social security. This day used to be a political event to honor the workers’ accomplishments, their activism, and democratic values.

On September 5, 1882, a lot of blacksmiths, bricklayers, railroad men, and other workers did not go to work, but went out on the street of New York City and marched in demanding better working conditions. The movement involved city by city and eventually, the federal authorities and the state made it official. Many protesters were injured, jailed, or even killed. However, years later, the government of Cleveland, Ohio, signed legislation proclaiming Labor Day a national American holiday.

Probably, we can consider the decline of unions as the main reason why Labor Day has lost its meaning. As a result of the membership decline, public stopped supporting them either.

However, there are many people who still belong to particular labor unions. Thereby, having a day off on the first September Monday is more than a national holiday for them. It is like recognition of their hard work and contribution to the common welfare. Therefore, one can hardly blame you for shopping this weekend and buying fancy and brand-new stuff like flat screen TV for a lower price (because it is a weekend of big discounts and wonderful sales). In homage to many laborers, holiday shoppers should wait till Tuesday since many respectful shops and stores are closed on Labor Day. Their workers are in their places – they are celebrating our national holiday, having a family barbecue, or watching the parade.

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