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Monday, September 3, 2012

A Brief History of Labor Day

A brief history: Labor Day started out as a holiday for workers, started by the “Nobel Order of the Knights of Labor” in Philadelphia in 1869. It started out as a trade union, but broadened to include humanitarian organizations, under the guidance of Uriah Stephens who was a Mason.

As time went on many unions sprung up for workers, by the end of the century Congress approved a Labor Day holiday for the first Monday in Sept. The unions fought for better working conditions, pay, and benefits for the working people. Colorado was the first state to celebrate this holiday, but it gradually extended to the other states, at first leaving it to the governor’s discretion to decide if the state would participate in the holiday.

The powerful unions of yesteryear have all but disappeared, replaced by big business and capital power. They no longer run the workers in the country as they once did. All over the US today, we celebrate Labor Day, usually as a mark to the end of summer. Sometimes there are parades and fairs. People have barbeques, go to the beach and parks, and participate in other family activities. It’s a last family day before school starts.

However, today, you will not find stores and other service businesses closed, which is somewhat ironic as this holiday started out to be a holiday for laborers of all kinds. Today the ones benefiting the most from Labor Day are the city, state, and government offices. It is no longer a holiday for the common laborer, unless a specific business decides to close, which is highly unlikely. Now I find this sad because the whole country should benefit from a holiday for workers and I’m one who is glad some stores are open 24/7 for my shopping convenience. What do you think?

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