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A Beloved Holiday With Violent Roots
If you told someone in the mid-1800s that America would soon have a holiday celebrating workers, they would have laughed in your face. Back then, even basic rights and protections seemed like a far-off dream. Kids as young as 5 years old slaved away in factories, and adults worked more than 80 hours a week without breaks in unsanitary conditions. So, how did we get from that awful state to a place where Labor Day became a federal holiday?
According to the History Channel, it all started with labor unions. Workers began joining these unions in the late 1700s, but they didn’t gain steam until almost 100 years later, when strikes and rallies started popping up regularly across the U.S. Slowly, these movements for better hours, wages, and working conditions inspired change.
On Sept. 5, 1882, 10,000 people in New York City skipped work to hold what would become known as the first Labor Day parade. They marched from City Hall to Union Square, and their advocacy for workers’ rights inspired (and terrified) legislators across the country.
Soon, states began to recognize a “workingmen’s holiday” on the first Monday of September. But the federal government remained stubborn. We might not have an official Labor Day today if not for the Pullman strike of 1894, when workers at Chicago’s Pullman Palace Car Company walked off the job.
The American Railroad Union stood by the workers and called for a Pullman boycott that brought rail traffic nationwide to a standstill. In the end, the U.S. government had to send in the military to break the strike! It turned into a deadly fight that showed the government just how serious people were about workers’ rights. That same summer, President Grover Cleveland officially declared Labor Day a national holiday.
Here at GA Injury Advocates, we can’t imagine treating our team with anything less than the utmost respect and dignity. Without them, our firm wouldn’t last a day! We also fight against dangerous workplaces with every workers compensation case we take on. If you’re a worker who needs help and protection this Labor Day, give us a call. Thank you for all that you do.