Labor Day has become a last hoorah before the end of summer. Very little in the current celebration harkens back to the rocky origins – or the current uncertainty – surrounding labor in America today.
The holiday was conceived in 1887 to honor the American labor movement, including organized labor and the contributions workers have made to the growth and economic strength of the nation.
Industry at the time was undergoing tremendous change. The largely agricultural underpinning of the country was changing as manufacturing jobs became available and coveted. Factories were making improvements by harnessing steam power, allowing the inexpensive and affordable mass-production of goods. As a result, industries became enormously powerful, but often through the abuse of the very people who made the profit possible.