Five Things You Need to Know Today: Labor Day
There was a time when the average American didn't have a day off.
The origins of the holiday were anything but celebratory. In fact, the first Labor Day "celebration" was actually a protest in which 10,000 workers marched to Union Square Park in New York City to support the idea of a holiday for workers. It was not until 1894, 12 years after that protest, that President Cleveland signed into law a bill designating the first Monday in September, Labor Day. Several states had already passed legislation by that time recognizing the holiday.
In the late 1800s the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks to eke out a basic living. Children as young as 5 and 6 years old worked in factories and mines.
More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.
Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."
But Peter McGuire's place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.
149.1 million: Number of people age 16 or older in the nation's labor force. Among the nation's workers are 80 million men and 69.1 million women. These men and women represent 66 percent of the civilian adult population.
99.44 percent of the time, the NFL plays it’s first official season game the Thursday after Labor Day. This year it's Wednesday so not to coincide with the Democratic National Convention and President Obama's speech.