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Labor Day Fast Facts

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Here’s a look at Labor Day, a legal holiday celebrated in the United States and Puerto Rico to honor working people. Labor Day is on Monday, September 1, 2014.

Facts:
It is celebrated on the first Monday in September.

In many other countries, May Day (May 1st) is the day working people are honored. Most of Europe celebrates May Day.

For many, Labor Day symbolizes the end of summer.

As of July 2014, there were about 156 million Americans in the civilian labor force in the United States.

Timeline:
Early 1880s - The idea for creating a holiday to honor workers is proposed by either Peter McGuire of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Union Secretary or Matthew Maguire of the International Association of Machinists (U.S. Department of Labor). The Central Labor Union of New York appoints a committee to organize a picnic and parade in honor of working people.

September 5, 1882 – New York City holds the first Labor Day parade. It is estimated that 10,000 workers participate. (U.S. Census Bureau) Not all employers support the idea, but many union workers take the first Monday in September off anyway. Some unions levy fines against workers who do go into work. At the time, workers receive time off for Christmas, the Fourth of July and every other Sunday.

1887 – Oregon becomes the first state to make Labor Day a legal holiday.

1894 – President Grover Cleveland and the U.S. Congress make it a national holiday.

Labor Unions: (BLS)
In 1983, the union membership rate was 20.1% in the U.S. Membership was 11.3% in 2013.

New York has the highest rate of union workers among the states, with 24.4% (2013).