"I want young men and young women who are not alive today to know and see that these new privileges and opportunities do not come without somebody suffering and sacrificing for them." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the late 1800s Americans worked 12-hour days, as long as seven days a week in order to earn a living. Children also worked as they provided cheap labor. Laws against child labor were not enforced.
With the long hours and terrible working conditions, American unions voiced their demands for a better way of life. On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers marched from city hall to Union Square in New York City, where the first Labor Day parade was held . Participants took a day-off (without pay) to honor the workers of America, and to vocalize issues they had with their employers.
In 1894, over 4,000 workers of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of representatives of the American Railway Union. They sought support from their union and called a boycott of all Pullman railway cars. Fifty thousand rail workers complied and refused to handle popular Pullman car trains. Railroad traffic out of Chicago was paralyzed . On July 4, President Grover Cleveland sent troops to Chicago which resulted in rioting and bloodshed. Their strike brought worker's rights to the public forefront and Congress later declared in 1894, the first Monday in September as 'Labor Day.'
While the term "labor" had previously been applied to industrial unions and craft guilds, today it is applied to professional unions as well . Labor Day means more than a day off for the American workforce, the holiday remembers/honors those who labored for our country and those who fought for workers rights. Here's to our many unsung heroes of the labor movement. I salute you ! - Posted by Candi.
(Footnotes: http://www.history.com/ )