On Monday, September 3rd, Achilles Group team members and millions of others across the United States will celebrate the 136th Labor Day. Unfortunately, as a people addicted to productivity, many Americans will view this holiday as just another opportunity to get ahead; catching up on work, finally cleaning the house or running errands that slipped away from the preceding weekend. However, it’s important that we take a look at why Labor Day was declared a national holiday and celebrate it accordingly.
The first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City on September 5, 1882, and in 1884 Labor Day was declared a national holiday to be celebrated the first Monday of every September. In those years, parades and festivals were organized to honor and entertain workers. Presently, it is a day for us to rest from our labor in tribute to American workers and the strength, success and safety they have provided for our country.
But the act of labor wasn’t always something to be celebrated. Before labor laws were instituted, working conditions for American workers were often dangerous and geared towards the interests of employers rather than employees. The average work day lasted around 12 hours, often as long as 18 hours, and it was not uncommon for children as young as five-years-old to labor alongside adults. To make things worse, many employers made it their goal to pay their employees as little as possible, sometimes less than $1 a day. It’s safe to say that laws were needed to ensure fair treatment of employees.
To learn more about the impact of fair labor laws in the United States, stay tuned for part two of our Labor Day series.