Shannon Brady
Writer & Editor

Labor Day 2022 falls on Monday, September 5.

Labor Day occurs annually on the first Monday of September, and Labor Day Weekend signals the farewell to summer in the United States. School often does not come back into session until after Labor Day, and many people take the opportunity to host a final summer get-together with family and friends on the three-day weekend it provides.

The holiday has its roots in the American labor movement of the late nineteenth century. The Industrial Revolution of the time completely transformed the economies and cultures of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom from agriculture-based to industry-based. While this led to societal improvements such as rapid evolution in technology and more efficient production of food and goods, the lack of labor laws caused horrible living and job conditions for the working class.

To overturn abuses such as child labor, 12-16 hour work days and seven-day work weeks, and unsafe working conditions that often led to illness, injuries, and even death, workers began to form labor unions. These unions held strikes, marches, and rallies to force negotiations with their employers for humane conditions on the job. These strikes were often met with violent resistance from the government, which often dispatched police and military forces against workers.

However, as the movement went on and labor unions became more powerful, Congress moved to declare an official holiday honoring the working people as a gesture of goodwill. In 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed the law making Labor Day a federal holiday. Labor activists had been celebrating such a holiday in several states before it reached the federal level (New York being the first state to pass legislation towards it), and there is some debate as to whose idea it initially was.

Today, people often celebrate Labor Day Weekend much the same way as it was originally celebrated in the nineteenth century: with parades, picnics and barbecues, fireworks, concerts, and other public festivities. Labor activists sometimes make speeches at public events. It is also a prime opportunity to learn more about American labor history, as it is the efforts of the workers then that led to the benefits workers enjoy now, such as safety regulations, sick leave, and the 8-hour workday with weekends off.

 Labor Day is a federal holiday and one that centers around giving state and federal workers a day off, which means that many businesses and government institutions will be closed or operating under limited hours. Many stores may have Labor Day sales in the days leading up to Labor Day Weekend: expect crowds of families going back-to-school shopping.

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