Labor Day weekend is here and with it the end of another summer. A long holiday weekend is on tap for most of the country, but few of us nowadays may know or remember exactly why we have off on Monday.
Let's take A History Minute, and find out some information and facts about Labor Day, some directly related to Philadelphia:
The formation of the first American union, The Federal Society of Journeymen Cordwainers (shoemakers), took place in Philadelphia in 1794 and marked the beginning of sustained trade union organization among American workers.
In June 1827, carpenters in Philadelphia went on strike for a 10-hour workday and soon formed the Mechanics' Union of Trade Associations in Philadelphia.
In the late 1800s, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks to make a living. Children as young as 5-6 years old worked in factories and mines.
Labor unions began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor working conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay in the late 1800s. Many of these events turned violent, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed.
The first U.S. Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, planned by the Central Labor Union. The Labor Day parade of about 10,000 workers took unpaid leave and marched from City Hall past Union Square uptown to 42nd street, and ended in Wendel’s Elm Park at 92nd Street and 9th Avenue for a concert, speeches, and a picnic.
Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, enacted by President Grover Cleveland. Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers.
- The year in which the eight-hour work day was firmly established was 1916 with the passage of the Adamson Act. This was the first federal law regulating hours of workers.
You can find more information on Labor Day and related topics such as "labor movement", "law and legislation", "employment", and "wages" by browsing our online catalog or by visiting our Social Science and History Department.
The Free Library system will be closed on Monday, September 2nd in observance of the Labor Day holiday, but as always, you can access content online via our website.