THAT FIRST STEP OUT INTO THE WORLD Honoring the Working American
effort from American workers of the late 18th century and early 19th century to turn the working class into what it is today. In order to make a basic living during the Industrial Revolution, the average American had to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. In addition to this, children as young as 5 years old were working in factories, mines, and mills for just as lengthy shifts but were only given a fraction of the already-low wages their parents made. During these long hours on the job, workers also faced terrible and often unsafe working conditions. They had no breaks, lacked sanitary facilities, and, for many, had inadequate access to fresh air. These injustices eventually led the American working class to revolt. U.S. citizens weren’t the only ones facing these terrible conditions. Canadians were experiencing similar circumstances and were attempting to band together, demanding fewer working hours and higher wages. However, they were unable to unionize as the Americans did, as unions were illegal in Canada. This ended in 1872 when thousands of workers in Ottawa marched to Prime Minister John McDonald’s home. That march later spurred an annual holiday celebrated by thousands of Canadians year after year. In 1882, U.S. union leader Peter J. McGuire was invited to Canada by Toronto labor officials. Inspired by their labor celebrations, he returned to the states and suggested there be a similar parade in New York. On Sept. 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took to the streets, marching from City Hall to Union Square, marking
For a lot of people, Labor Day means taking the first Monday of September off of work, but this holiday represents much more than an extended weekend. Labor Day originated in the 19th century when 10,000 workers protested the poor working conditions many Americans were forced to endure. Today, the holiday is meant to honor the hardworking people of our nation and their achievements. Nearly everyone, at some point, has a blue-collar job, likely in the retail or fast-food industries. These jobs are important because they build a person’s experience, give them a sense of work ethic, and often help them take that first step out into the job world. One of the first jobs I had as a kid was busing tables at Molina’s Cuban Restaurant. It was the first time I was introduced to the working world, and I learned a lot from that experience. However, even though these jobs have the potential to help many people set off on the path toward their careers, it didn’t start out that way. It took a lot of “These jobs are important because they build a person’s experience, give them a sense of work ethic, and often help them take that first step out into the job world.”
the first Labor Day parade in our history. But there was one problem with these parades: When a worker chose to attend the celebrations, they were unpaid for the day. This changed in 1887 when Oregon legalized the holiday. Labor Day later became nationally recognized in 1894 when President Grover Cleveland signed a bill to make it a federal holiday. Today, we celebrate Labor Day and the working class by enjoying annual parades, doing the most we can with the long weekend, and, hopefully, thanking those who work hardest.
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