Edwards celebrates Labor Day, worker contributions

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Julius Delos Reyes
  • 95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Labor Day is dedicated to the socio-economic achievement of American workers and celebrates the contribution workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of the country. 

Labor Day came to existence with 10,000 workers assembling in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882, to participate in a parade. They marched from the city hall to Union Square and gathered in Reservoir Park for picnics, concerts and speeches. As to who founded the first Labor Day is still in debate. 

Some people say that Peter McGuire, carpenter, labor union leader and co-founded the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, coordinated the first celebration. Other people say Matthew Maguire, Local 344 secretary of International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., is the founder. What is clear is that Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic. 

The New York's Central Labor Union approved the proposal and began planning events for the second Tuesday in September. In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday. The Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885, Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country. 

The local government recognized the importance of Labor Day with the passing of municipal ordinances during 1885 and 1886. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature but Oregon was the first to pass the law on Feb. 21, 1887. During the year, four more states -- Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York -- created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade, Connecticut, Nebraska and Pennsylvania followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states adopted the holiday, on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. 

As of May 2007, there are more than 152 million working people ages 16 and older for whom Labor Day is celebrated. Among the nation's working class, 82.1 million are men while 70.7 million are women. 

(Some information courtesy of www.dol.gov and firstgov.gov)