5 Facts About Labor Day
1. The celebration is more than 100 years old.
Labor Day was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894.
2. It was created out of an era of unrest.
In the late 1800s, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines. The very poor and recent immigrants often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.
3. The poor working conditions led to the rise of labor unions.
Labor unions grew more prominent and vocal and began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.
4. The situation led to both violence and parades.
The Haymarket Riot of 1886 led to the deaths of several Chicago policemen and workers. In New York City on Sept. 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square. It was the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.
5. Grover Cleveland signed the holiday into law.
In an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed it into law.