Northwest NEWS

August 28, 2000


Labor Day not just another pretty holiday

Sometimes holidays lose their meaning year after year.
   A day off from the hectic workplace can be a welcome respite to the vacation conscious clan of world employees, but the American Labor Day had its origins from the early industrial revolution of a young country and organizing workforce determined to gain fair representation, respect and fair economic viability.
   The observance of Labor Day began over 100 years ago. Conceived by America's labor unions as a testament to their cause, the legislation sanctioning the holiday was shepherded through Congress amid labor unrest and signed by President Grover Cleveland as a reluctant election-year compromise.
   The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882 in New York City.
   In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday to celebrate a 'workingmen's holiday.'
   The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country with parades and speeches.
   "The day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed... that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it."
   Samual Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor, 1898.
   Though Labor Day is a signal for the end of summer, the beginning of school, and harvest time, Labor Day is also a time to reflect on Americans as they wage their daily battles for advancement, pay increases and equal recognition with management of their importance in the world economy.
   "Labor Day differs in every essential from the other holidays of the year in any country. All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord of greed and power, of glories achieved by by one nation over another. Labor Day... is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation." Samual Gompers.