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Labor built the middle class


By Tara Yilmaz

“Hard-working Americans are the backbone of our country. As I have often said, the middle- class built America, and unions built the middle class. Everything that supports a sustainable middle-class life was made possible by unions, and on Labor Day we honor all those workers, and their enduring movement, that keep our economy moving and make our nation strong.”

– President Joseph Biden, Sept. 3, 2021.

→ Did you know Labor Day is the American holiday when we celebrate the workforce? This year it will be celebrated on Sept. 5.

Labor Day can be celebrated in many ways, from intimate barbecues at home with family, spending a long weekend at the beach, or enjoying a well-deserved day of rest. No matter the method of celebrating, the important part is honoring all those in the workforce and yourselves.

→ Did you know New York was the first state to introduce a bill to recognize Labor Day statewide? Unfortunately, Oregon beat New York to the finish line and passed the law recognizing Labor Day on Feb. 21, 1887. During the same year, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts followed. After nearly a decade of waiting, Pennsylvania hopped on the “Labor Day” bandwagon. By 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed law S.730 making the first Monday in September of each year a national holiday.

“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That the first Monday of September in each year, being the day celebrated and known as Labor’s Holiday, is hereby made a legal public holiday, to all intents and purposes, in the same manner as Christmas, the first day of January, the 22nd day of February, and the 13th day of May, and the 4th of July are now by made public holidays.”

→ Did you know there is a historical dispute about who was the founder of Labor Day? On the Department of Labor website, it lists two men as being the innovators of Labor Day. In 1882, Peter J. McGuire, the secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, cited “a general holiday for the working classes.”

The New Jersey Historical Society published an opinion piece in the Patterson Morning Call stating Alderman Matthew Maguire was the author of Labor Day.

→ Did you know the Labor Hall of Honor posthumously honors Americans whose contributions to the field of labor have enhanced the quality of American lives past, present, and future. Honorees such as President Ronald Reagan, 2018, the Chinese railroad workers, 2014, Helen Keller, 2010, 9/11 rescue workers, 2002, and Cesar E. Chavez,1998 are all posthumously awarded. A full list of inductees can be viewed on the Department of Labor website under the Department of Labor, Hall of Honor.



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