Labor Day 2023

WHY: Labor Day recognizes workers’ contributions to American and Canadian strength, prosperity, economy, and well-being, and the labor movements that raised our standards of living and our productivity.


HISTORY: During the Industrial Revolution in the 1880s, average workers toiled 12-hour days, 7 days a week to eke out a living. Children worked on farms, factories, mills and mines at a fraction of adult wages.  Working conditions were harsh, unsafe and unsanitary.


Labor Unions grew and protested to improve working conditions, hours and pay.  September 2, 1882 was the first Labor Day parade, 10,000-20,000 workers took unpaid time off for a peaceful “working man’s holiday” to raise awareness of the problem. During the next 12 years, strikes and unrest culminated in violence when Pullman railroad lowered wages, but not rents in their “company town housing”. 


In 1894, The US Congress passed legislation to recognize the first Monday in September as a Federal holiday and the 8-hour workday went into effect following a 300,000 worker strike.


TODAY: Labor Day marks the last vacation and the end of summer for children heading back to school. Labor Day is celebrated with picnics, parades, and parties.


This year, there are many strikes by members of labor unions looking to increase their pay, benefits and working conditions: writers, actors, producers, directors in the entertainment industry; transportation workers; service people in the restaurant and hotel industries; nurses; city services; etc. During COVID-19, many people in the services sectors burned out by overworking to provide their essential services to many people, others just left their work to become self-employed. Let’s pray that we can get back to normal, that workers can earn a living wage, and we can again get quality services.


Let’s remember to honor our workers and the history of the brave workers of the past and today who stand up for better working conditions. 


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By Linda Lindquist,  September 4, 2023