Happy Labor Day!

by David Albrecht


In the late 1800s, the American labor force was overworked and underpaid.  The Industrial Revolution was in full swing, and while businesses profited, workers suffered.  Many Americans were forced to work 12-hour days, seven days a week, and children as young as five or six worked in mills, factories, and mines across the country.

Lewis Hine Young Boy Coal Miner, 1909-13 — Weisman Art Museum

Library of Congress, National Child Labor Committee Collection

The dire state of the American worker galvanized labor unions, which organized against the low pay and perilous working conditions.

By 1882, labor activists were pushing hard for a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold,” and the first Labor Day was held on September 5, 1882, in New York City.  It was not until 12 years later that the US Congress officially made the first Monday in September of each year a federal holiday.

In the decades since the first Labor Day, organized labor has been responsible for gaining passage of crucial workers’ rights laws such as the National Labor Relations Act, Unemployment Insurance, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and workers’ compensation laws, among others.

As you enjoy your holiday, take a moment to reflect on the contributions of America’s workforce, and consider the importance of laws that protect yourself and others from unsafe or unfair labor practices.

And if you believe your rights may have been violated at work, contact the Fiedler Law Firm, where we believe every worker is entitled to dignity and respect in the workplace.  For more information on the history of Labor Day, click here or here.


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