Anti Union, Anti Labor Day
Labor Day is the yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of America celebrated the first Monday in September. 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.
In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, 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.
The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. These were the impetus to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887.
During that year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. After the Haymarket Massacre, which occurred in Chicago on May 4, 1886, U.S. President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair.
Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, the United States Congress unanimously voted to approve rush legislation that made Labor Day a national holiday; President Grover Cleveland signed it into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. In 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
Outlined in the first proposal of the holiday was a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday.
According to public opinion polls, unions have declined in popularity for a number of reasons including changing institutional environments, labor legislation, economic globalization, and coordinated employer strategies. No matter your support or lack thereof for unions, it’s important for us on this day to recognize the efforts of big labor in improving the lives of all of us, the American worker.