Happy Labor Day Typography Over Distressed Whitewashed Wood BackgroundIt’s September 2016, and as you may already know, Labor Day Weekend is upon us. What does that mean for most Americans? For many, it means a day at the beach, barbecues, not wearing white for the rest of the year (as it is a fashion faux pas in American culture), and time spent with family. While these activities are indeed what many of us decide to do with our extended weekend, the real question is, what do we celebrate on Labor Day, and why?

It all began in 1894…

The history of America’s Labor Day holiday was fraught with struggle and bloodshed, but it ultimately resulted in the celebration of the American worker that we recognize today. The Industrial Revolution brought about new manufacturing technology when it began in the 18th century, as well as the economic advancement that continued well into the 19th century. The landscape of the working world looked drastically different then in comparison to what it is now, with the average American worker clocking out after 12 hour long shifts, seven days a week, in dangerous conditions. Because there was no federally enforced minmum age requirement, children were often put to work and subjected to these same poor conditions.

Can you imagine working a whole shift without having a bathroom break? What about having to work in an unsanitary environment, or having to breathe in harmful chemicals for a paycheck that wasn’t enough to even get by for a single person, let alone a family?

You can thank the Labor Movement for the protection and representation that American workers have today. It was a movement to attain better and safer conditions for working people as well as laws and regulations that would ensure fair treatment by employers.

By the end of the 18th century, labor unions began to voice their concerns and rally for change by way of protests and strikes. Some of these protests turned violent, such as the Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which both Chicago policeman and workers died. Other strikes created a long lasting legacy, such as the walkout of 10,000 workers who marched from City Hall to Union Square in New York City – otherwise known as the country’s first Labor Day parade. Though many states began to legalize the observation of Labor Day, it wasn’t until 12 years later and the Pullman Strike of 1894 in Chicago on May 11, that Congress decided to legalize the holiday nationwide.

The Evolution of Labor Day and The Working Class

Thanks to our predecessors, today’s workforce is entitled to lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, medical leave, the right to compensation upon injury, and other protections mandated by federal employment laws (although the terms of these laws vary depending on the state, job position, and other related contingencies). In 2016, you have the benefit of being able to do your homework on your potential employers and “shop around” for a job position that best suits you and your family’s needs. Over a hundred years ago that would be nearly impossible if you didn’t belong to the upper socioeconomic class.

While the American Labor Movement brought about many vital changes to the workforce, technological advances have caused manufacturing jobs to dwindle in the U.S., as well as corporate outsourcing to other countries where labor is more affordable. Add to the current economic climate that the minimum wage is increasingly failing to keep up with the cost of living in America, and you’ve got a widening gap between the rich and the poor, as the middle class continues to disappear.

What else has changed? The emphasis on education in America has intensified throughout the decades as the competition in the workforce continues to grow. As the minimum wage becomes increasingly insufficient to live upon, the pressure for Americans to obtain college degrees also continues to mount. However, with the disparity between the socioeconomic classes, being able to afford an education has become an issue in and of itself. Those who are able to get a college education are often saddled with thousands of dollars in debt, and as with many things in life, there is never a guarantee that a recent graduate will immediately get even an entry-level job in the field that they’ve studied.

Labor Day Today

Labor Day activities today are a far cry from what they were when the holiday originated, ranging from family picnics to retail sales. It’s arguable that today, Americans enjoy the annual Labor Day celebration doing exactly what those in the 19th century intended for us to do, even if it’s only for the weekend – relax and enjoy the fruits of our labor!

While the state of America’s job market will always be a point of contention as it changes and evolves through the ages, it remains an important topic in the mass media and at the forefront of the working people’s minds. If you’ve only just discovered the story behind the holiday, do you now feel differently about how you celebrate it? If there’s one thing to take away from this article, it’s that Labor Day is a holiday you deserve to enjoy to it’s fullest – after all, you, and those before you have worked hard for it.

Get more interesting news and articles

Happy Labor Day Typography Over Distressed Whitewashed Wood BackgroundIt’s September 2016, and as you may already know, Labor Day Weekend is upon us. What does that mean for most Americans? For many, it means a day at the beach, barbecues, not wearing white for the rest of the year (as it is a fashion faux pas in American culture), and time spent with family. While these activities are indeed what many of us decide to do with our extended weekend, the real question is, what do we celebrate on Labor Day, and why?

It all began in 1894…

The history of America’s Labor Day holiday was fraught with struggle and bloodshed, but it ultimately resulted in the celebration of the American worker that we recognize today. The Industrial Revolution brought about new manufacturing technology when it began in the 18th century, as well as the economic advancement that continued well into the 19th century. The landscape of the working world looked drastically different then in comparison to what it is now, with the average American worker clocking out after 12 hour long shifts, seven days a week, in dangerous conditions. Because there was no federally enforced minmum age requirement, children were often put to work and subjected to these same poor conditions.

Can you imagine working a whole shift without having a bathroom break? What about having to work in an unsanitary environment, or having to breathe in harmful chemicals for a paycheck that wasn’t enough to even get by for a single person, let alone a family?

You can thank the Labor Movement for the protection and representation that American workers have today. It was a movement to attain better and safer conditions for working people as well as laws and regulations that would ensure fair treatment by employers.

By the end of the 18th century, labor unions began to voice their concerns and rally for change by way of protests and strikes. Some of these protests turned violent, such as the Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which both Chicago policeman and workers died. Other strikes created a long lasting legacy, such as the walkout of 10,000 workers who marched from City Hall to Union Square in New York City – otherwise known as the country’s first Labor Day parade. Though many states began to legalize the observation of Labor Day, it wasn’t until 12 years later and the Pullman Strike of 1894 in Chicago on May 11, that Congress decided to legalize the holiday nationwide.

The Evolution of Labor Day and The Working Class

Thanks to our predecessors, today’s workforce is entitled to lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, medical leave, the right to compensation upon injury, and other protections mandated by federal employment laws (although the terms of these laws vary depending on the state, job position, and other related contingencies). In 2016, you have the benefit of being able to do your homework on your potential employers and “shop around” for a job position that best suits you and your family’s needs. Over a hundred years ago that would be nearly impossible if you didn’t belong to the upper socioeconomic class.

While the American Labor Movement brought about many vital changes to the workforce, technological advances have caused manufacturing jobs to dwindle in the U.S., as well as corporate outsourcing to other countries where labor is more affordable. Add to the current economic climate that the minimum wage is increasingly failing to keep up with the cost of living in America, and you’ve got a widening gap between the rich and the poor, as the middle class continues to disappear.

What else has changed? The emphasis on education in America has intensified throughout the decades as the competition in the workforce continues to grow. As the minimum wage becomes increasingly insufficient to live upon, the pressure for Americans to obtain college degrees also continues to mount. However, with the disparity between the socioeconomic classes, being able to afford an education has become an issue in and of itself. Those who are able to get a college education are often saddled with thousands of dollars in debt, and as with many things in life, there is never a guarantee that a recent graduate will immediately get even an entry-level job in the field that they’ve studied.

Labor Day Today

Labor Day activities today are a far cry from what they were when the holiday originated, ranging from family picnics to retail sales. It’s arguable that today, Americans enjoy the annual Labor Day celebration doing exactly what those in the 19th century intended for us to do, even if it’s only for the weekend – relax and enjoy the fruits of our labor!

While the state of America’s job market will always be a point of contention as it changes and evolves through the ages, it remains an important topic in the mass media and at the forefront of the working people’s minds. If you’ve only just discovered the story behind the holiday, do you now feel differently about how you celebrate it? If there’s one thing to take away from this article, it’s that Labor Day is a holiday you deserve to enjoy to it’s fullest – after all, you, and those before you have worked hard for it.

Get more interesting news and articles

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