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Happy Labor Day 2016

September 5, 2016 Featured 1 Comment

Many of you are off work today, because it’s Labor Day:

Labor Day: What it Means
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Labor Day Legislation
Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed 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 the 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. 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.

Founder of Labor Day

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic. (US Dept of Labor)


Labor Day Parade in downtown St. Louis, 2009
Labor Day Parade in downtown St. Louis, 2009

The first Labor Day was held 134 years ago today — September 5, 1882.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Mark-AL says:

    I am always more comfortable when I hear that a project I am responsible for will be completed by a AFL-CIO-affiliated shop. In 99/100 cases, this means that the project’s structural work will be assigned to a qualified iron-worker foreman (many of whom are under 30 years of age!!) who understands the seriousness of his role overall in the project. St Louis is a great union town, and based on my experience in STL and elsewhere, STL ironworker tradesmen are responsible for some of the finest workmanship found anywhere, which can be attributed to the tight web of family connections typically found among ironworkers and the pride felt just to be a part of the web, and to the outstanding apprenticeship training programs offered by the union. These programs really are remarkable and unquestionably render a more knowledgeable work force than is found in areas that don’t offer the training. It’s interesting to note too that several young, energetic ironworker foremen are also college graduates and therefore don’t fit the typical stereotype. This fact partially explains their focus and attention to detail. (I know of one young foreman with a degree in civil engineering who decided to begin his career in the field just to widen his horizons.) The quality of structural concrete, flatwork, masonry and finish carpentry in STL ranks among some of the finest found anywhere in the US, IMO, …which is a cause for celebration today.


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