Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. Created by the labor movement in the late 19th century, Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, and also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans
Labor Day is an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, which originated in the late 1800s at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. At the time, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks, in order to make ends meet. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as five or six toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions. There was insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.
When the manufacturing industry started to displace agriculture as the primary source of employment, labor unions grew more prominent and active, organizing protests to negotiate for better working conditions.
On September 5, 1882, thousands of workers took unpaid time off to march in the first Labor Day parade in New York City. Shortly thereafter, the concept of a worker’s holiday caught on in other industrial cities across the country. Many states passed legislation, recognizing what was to become Labor Day. However, Congress did not legalize the holiday until 12 years later when Chicago’s Pullman Palace Car Company went on strike to protest wage cuts and union issues.
On June 26, the American Railroad Union called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide. To break the strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers. In the wake of this massive unrest and 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. More than a century later, the true founder of Labor Day has yet to be identified.
To this day, Labor Day is still celebrated in cities and towns across the United States with parades, picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays and other public gatherings. For many Americans, particularly children and young adults, it represents the end of the summer and the start of the back-to-school season.
As a result, Hornblower Cruises & Events celebrates this special tribute to the American labor force by offering celebratory dining cruises in several of our ports, including San Francisco, San Diego, Marina del Rey and Newport Beach.
Visit www.hornblower.com for more information.