Labor Day Facts

Labor Day Facts
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  • President Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day to be the first Monday of September. Labor Day was first observed on September 5th, 1882. The very first Labor Day was celebrated on a Tuesday and was later moved to Monday. President Cleveland was in fact a staunch opponent of organized labor groups. Nevertheless, he pushed Labor Day through Congress in lightning speed in order to stop riots that were breaking out across the United States because of the poor conditions and extremely long work days that American workers had to deal with.
  • Labor Day is celebrated in Canada as well as the United States. Oregon was the first state to declare Labor Day as law.
  • There are two different beliefs concerning who founded Labor Day: Some state Peter McGuire, the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, while others contend that it was in fact Matthew McGuire, a machinist, who founded Labor Day in the United States.
  • The first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City. 10,000 workers took an unpaid holiday to march in the first Labor Day parade.
  • The American Federation of Labor declared in 1909 that the Sunday before Labor Day would be Labor Sunday on which the spiritual and educational ideas of the labor movement would be emphasized.
  • Labor Day was founded when many in America worked 16 hour days in harsh work environments. It was considered a day to recognize the challenges and the rights of workers.
  • The first Labor Day was really a rally for the adoption of eight hour work days and other more suitable working conditions.
  • Many other countries celebrate May Day a holiday very similar to our Labor Day, dedicated to workers’ rights.
  • A union known as the Knights of Labor were responsible for organizing the first Labor Day demonstration.
  • Detroit was the biggest player in the early days of the labor movement. Workers demanded that their days be shortened to 10 hours and their pay be raised to 2 dollars an hour, which was considered a steep wage in that day.