Free day off from work. Last day to wear white until Easter. Unofficial end of summer. What Does Labor Day really mean? Labor Day actually constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. So here are just some of the notable facts in the history of Labor day:
1800 - Most U.S. workers (men, women AND children) worked 14-hour days and 6-day weeks.
1824 - Women workers strike for the first time, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. 102 women workers strike in support of brother weavers protesting the simultaneous reduction in wages and extension of the workday.
1840 - President Martin Van Buren signs an executive order establishing a 10-hour workday without a decrease in pay.
1866 - The National Labor Union founded.
1868 - The first 8-hour day for federal workers takes effect.
1882 – September 5th, First Labor Day Celebration takes place in New York City.
1894 - The U.S. Congress passes legislation on June 28 making the first Monday in September a legal holiday.
1919 - The International Labor Union proposes global work day limits of 8-9 hours.
1922 - The Ford Motor Company reduces the work week from 6 days to 5.
1923 - The U.S. Supreme Court overturns a Washington, D.C. law setting minimum wages for women.
1926 - The Ford Motor Company adopts a 40-hour work week on May 1.
1929 - Stock-market crash signals beginning of Great Depression that will last more than a decade.
1935 - The Wagner National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) passes establishing first national labor policy protecting workers rights to organize and bargain.
1938 - Fair Labor Standards Act establishes 40 hour week and minimum wage, outlaws child labor (children younger than 16).
1943 - Labor shortages prompt government to recruit women into wartime industry.
1944 - 19,370,000 women were working. 37% of all women of work age were employed.
1970 - Congress passes Occupational Safety & Health Act.
1993 - Congress passes Family & Medical Leave Act and Americans with Disabilities Act protecting the rights of new parents and seriously ill workers to leave without losing their jobs and the rights.
2010 - The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is signed into law by President Obama, with the goal of decreasing the number of uninsured citizens and reducing health care costs via tax credits, subsidies, incentives and fees for employers and uninsured individuals.
2011 - Workers in the U.S. work an average of 7.6 hours per day. Workers between 25 and 54 with children worked an average of 8.8 hours per day.
2013 - The euphemistically named Working Families Flexibility Act is introduced, amending FLSA to allow employers to replace overtime pay with compensatory time at the rate of 1.5 hours for every hour of overtime.
It is eye-opening to realize many of the workplace conditions we take for granted: weekends, the absence of child labor, and many more. We have come so far.