Peter McGuire

We Work Hard For The Money So Celebrate It.

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We all need money to live and how do we obtain it? We work, of course. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many people who haven’t complained about their job for one reason or another. They work too many hours, don’t get paid enough, don’t get enough vacation time, or maybe they didn’t get the promotion they felt they deserved. Just like the Dolly Parton song “9 to 5” when she sings “Want to move ahead but the boss won’t seem to let me.” If we think we’ve got it bad now just look at what it was like years ago.

1800s Factory Workers | Photo by Thinklink

All we have to do is look back in history to the late 1800s to see how terrible the working conditions were. Most people worked 12-hour days for 7-days-a-week and for not much money. This was also before child labor laws were enacted so many children, as young as 6-years of age, were working in sweat shops instead of going to school. We may whine about our working conditions but according to History.com “People of all ages, particularly the poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.”

The Father’s Of Labor Day Matthew Maguire & Peter McGuire | image by 401kmaneuver.com

Trade unions began to take shape as the labor movement in the U.S. grew stronger. Here is where we first hear of an effort to have a holiday to celebrate labor. There seems to be a bit of a controversy over who actually came up with the idea first. In September of 1882 the General Assembly of the Knights of Labor met in New York City and a parade was held on September 5th under the auspices of the Central Labor Union (CLU) of New York to celebrate laborers. Matthew Maguire, the CLU Secretary proposed a national Labor Day holiday to be held on the first Monday in September.

Peter J. McGuire, A.F.L VP | Image by blogs.log.gov

However, there is another version of this story that says Peter J. McGuire, a vice president of the American Federation of Labor, proposed the Labor Day holiday idea in the spring of 1882. He said he proposed the holiday on May 8,1882 to the Central Labor Union in New York City stating that a day should be set aside for a “general holiday for the laboring classes.”

I’ll bet you didn’t know this fact that Oregon was the first state in the union to make Labor Day an official public holiday. I know I never heard that fact.

President Grover Cleveland | quotesgram.com

The U.S. Congress passed a bill making the first Monday in September as Labor Day a national holiday and on June 28,1894 President Grover Cleveland signed the bill into law making it official.

In modern times the long Labor Day Holiday weekend has turned into a time for friends and family to gather together for picnics, swimming, boating as a final celebration of the unofficial end of summer. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a serious break from that tradition in 2020 and with the Delta Variant of the virus many plans for this year’s Labor Day celebrations have been scaled back and in many areas outright cancelled as the pandemic rages on.

If we can get most of our population vaccinated and keep up the protocols for a while longer we just might be able to see our lives and celebrations return to a somewhat normal condition. If not, we are in for a very long and deadly Fall and Winter.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].