Working folks created Labor Day

Published 3:09 pm Monday, September 6, 2010

Most working men and women received a well-deserved day off on Monday in honor of Labor Day.

Still others, including some retail, public service and medical, worked through the day, giving of themselves because some shops just don’t close down.

Americans have observed Labor Day for more than a century, but the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on a Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, sponsored by the Central Labor Union, to demonstrate and have a picnic.

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A good many industrial centers followed the example of the Central Labor Union in the following years. Some municipalities worked the Labor Day celebration into their ordinances because so many of their people were union workers.

Then, in 1887, the New York Legislature considered a measure to recognize Labor Day nationwide. Yet, Oregon was the first to pass a statewide law to honor workers on their day. The Oregon legislation passed Feb. 21, 1887.

In the shadow of the violence that would become known as the Pullman Strike in 1894, Congress passed the federal holiday measure six days after the end of the strike. President Grover Cleveland sought reconciliation with the labor movement, and he wanted to belay any more violence between workers and federal authorities.

It’s good to know the history behind what we celebrate.

Now, today, most of us are back to work, being productive. And that is what labor is all about.