A Holiday for Workers
Depending on what you believe, either Matthew Maguire, of the CLU (Central Labor Union) of New York, or Peter J. McGuire, of the American Federation of Labor, first proposed the Labor Day holiday in 1882. Some say McGuire got the idea from the annual labor festival held in Toronto, Canada. No matter who first suggested it, Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday on February 21, 1887. When it became a federal holiday in 1894, thirty states were already celebrating Labor Day.
The United States Congress unanimously voted to approve rush legislation that made Labor Day a national holiday after the deaths of a number of workers during the Pullman Strike. The Pullman Strike was a nationwide conflict in the summer of 1894 between the new American Railway Union (ARU) and railroads that occurred in the United States. There were a number of deaths at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during this Strike. President Grover Cleveland signed it into law a mere six days after the end of the strike.
There are other celebrations of “Labor, or Labour, Day in many countries. For many countries, “Labour Day” is synonymous with, or linked with, International Workers’ Day which occurs on 1 May. Some countries vary the actual date of their celebrations so that the holiday occurs on a Monday close to 1 May. The U.S holiday is celebrated on the first Monday in September. All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have made it a statutory holiday.
International Workers’ Day (also known as May Day) is a celebration of the international labour movement. May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries and celebrated unofficially in many other countries.