Remembering the History of Labor Day

Labor Day is more than just the end of the summer. It is a day to recognize the achievements of American workers. Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1984, during a time when the Industrial Revolution was killing the average worker.

During the height of the Industrial Revolution, in the late 1800’s, the average person was working 12-hour days, seven days a week. Children as young as 5 or 6 were even working in mills, factories, railroads, shipping, and mines at a fraction of what adults were making.

The working conditions were often extremely unsafe for everyone, with limited access to fresh air, clean facilities, and no breaks. Labor unions were growing in strength and voice, organizing strikes and rallies.

Several of the rallies ended in violence, such as the Haymarket Riot of 1886 and the Pullman Strike in 1894.

Labor Unions gained momentum, fostering social equality through better wages and improved working conditions. While there were unsavory issues in the history of unions, the collective bargaining movement did improve American working conditions and pay.

As people struggle with the concept of protests, remember that American history is full of change that was brought on by protests, some that turned very violent.

Better labor standards is among them.

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