The first Labor Day Parade was held on September 5, 1882. It became a federal holiday in 1894, following the death of several workers at the hands of law enforcement and military forces at the Pullman Strike.
Labor Day grew out of a movement called the Labor Movement, which developed during the Industrial Revolution, to support workers’ rights and safe working conditions. The gap between the wealthy owners making huge profits and the poor laborers scraping by on low wages and living in horrific conditions, was palpable.
Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
— Abraham Lincoln, December 3, 1861
Like many movements, the Labor Movement was resisted by big business, which claimed the economy would collapse if owners paid a fair wage, gave a two-day weekend off and accepted eight-hour days. Additionally, the costs of infrastructure to provide safe working conditions were considered prohibitive. if someoneThough many in the labor movement were labeled as socialists, and anti-capitalists, they made many advances in human rights including child labor laws.
Labor Day is a day to think about the everyday worker. Here are some stats:
• The typical U.S. worker makes an average of $17/hour, or $34,000/year.
• Half of all who work at minimum wage or less ($7.25/hour or $14,500/year) are over 25 years of age.
• The average CEO makes 331x the average worker and 700x the lowest paid worker.
• Tipped workers live in poverty at 3x the rate of the average worker.
• 15% of the U.S. population lives in poverty (21.8% for children under the age of 18).
• The poverty level this year is $11,700 for one person. Add $4K for each additional person.
• Social programs like WIC and food stamps exist for those under the poverty level, but those just above have few programs and can barely make ends meet.
Labor Day celebrates labor, employment, the backbone of our country and economy.
How you can honor Labor Day:
1. Pray for all who struggle to feed their families because they live on meager wages.
2. Tip generously (especially if you eat out at a restaurant that’s open on Labor Day).
3. If you are an employer, pay a living wage. No one who works a 40-hour week should need to be on food stamps.
4. Encourage fair wages.