The Origin of Labor Day

The Origins of Labor Day

Today, American’s celebrate Labor Day, a Federal Holiday since 1894, on the 1st Monday in September. The first U.S. Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5th, 1882, in New York City and was organized by the Central Labor Union.

Before it became a Federal Holiday, Labor Day was recognized by labor activists and individual States. New York was the 1st State to introduce a bill, but Oregon was the first State to pass legislation recognizing Labor Day, February 21st, 1887. On June 28th, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a law making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.

Two individuals lay claim to the to the Founder of Labor Day title: First, Peter J. McGuire (NYC), General Secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, and co-founder of the American Federation of Labor and Second, Matthew McGuire, later the Secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, NJ. The men were from rival unions and in 2011, Linda Stinson, a former U.S. Department of Labor historian concluded that both men deserved credit.

Present Labor Day is perceived as the end of the summer season and has been associated with several themes, including:

  • “No white after Labor Day”: This concept or fashion trend, according to Emily Post, is derived from the time that the upper class would return from their vacations and stow away their lightweight, white summer outfits as they returned to work and school.
  • Labor Day resulted from the labor union movement, recognizing the contributions of men and women in the U.S. workforce and directly influenced the passage of the Adamson Act on September 3, 1916, establishing an 8-hour workday.
  • Labor Day weekend is the unofficial start of the NFL Season as the 1st NFL game is now played on the 1st Thursday after Labor Day. This year, the college football season “really” gets going on Thursday evening and rolls all the way into Labor Day.
  • During peak hot dog season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Americans typically consume 7 billion hot dogs. That’s 818 hot dogs consumed every second during that period. Labor Day marks the unofficial end of the hot dog season!
  • According to Wikipedia, “Labor Day has become an important weekend for discounts and allowances by many retailers in the United States, especially for back-to-school sales. Some retailers claim it is one of the largest sale dates of the year, second only to the Christmas season’s “Black Friday.”
  • However, Labor Day may be one of the longest, toughest workdays for many Americans—more specifically, our largest labor group, retail employees who assist the public in taking advantage of Labor Day sales!

At Dixie Mechanical, we honor Labor Day, originally a concept of the union movement. As a union-oriented pipe fabricator and mechanical contractor, we appreciate our skilled U.A. craftsmen whose training and expertise has been the foundation of our company’s growth since 2002.

To learn more about who Dixie is, visit our About page.