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What does Labor Day celebrate?
The holiday is “a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.” Labor Day is a “yearly national tribute” to the “contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and wellbeing of our country.”
When was the first Labor Day?
Workers in New York City celebrated the first Labor Day on September 5, 1882, with a parade organized by trade unions. It was overseen by the Central Labor Union (CLU), a left-wing union that later broke up into local organizations that are members of the modern American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).
But while the first rally was held in New York, Oregon was the first state to institute Labor Day as a holiday, passing legislation to that effect in 1887. Over the following seven years, some 30 states made it a holiday. In 1894, the U.S. Congress voted unanimously to approve Labor Day as a national holiday, and President Grover Cleveland signed it into law.
What’s the history behind Labor Day?
The holiday evolved out of decades of tensions between workers and unions on one side, and state security forces and employers on the other. During the last two decades of the 1800s, workers carried out some 37,000 strikes in the United States; and between 1870 and 1914, up to 800 American workers were killed during strikes, almost entirely by state security forces or the military, the Washington Post reported, citing historian Edward T. O’Connell.