WHAT WE DO MATTERS: THE MEANING AND HISTORY OF LABOR DAY
Labor Day is a special holiday set aside to honor workers and the contributions that they make to their jobs and to society.
The History of Labor Day
There is some doubt and confusion as to when or by whom Labor Day was started. Here are some points of importance to how Labor Day Started.
- April 15, 1872 – Toronto Trades Assembly (TTA) (possibly the original labour body in Canada) organized the first North American “workingman’s demonstration”. Some 10,000 Torontonians turned out to watch a parade and to listen to speeches calling for abolition of the law which decreed that “trade unions were criminal conspiracies in restraint of trade”.
- September 3, 1872 – Members of seven unions in Ottawa Canada organized a parade that stretched for more than a mile long. The parade stopped at the home of Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald. They brought him into a carriage and marched to the Ottawa City Hall by torch light. The Prime Minister was aware of the discontent of workers with the laws which made unions illegal so he made this declaration that his party would “Sweep away all such barbarous laws from the statute books”. These laws were repealed by Parliament later that year and the tradition of holding parades and demonstrations was continued on into the early 1880’s.
- July 22, 1882 – The Toronto Trades and Labour Council (the successor to the TTA) organized the annual demonstration and parade. Peter J. McGuire of New York was invited to attend and speak at this occasion.
- 1882 – Matthew Maguire, later secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J. proposed a Holiday for Labor while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.
- 1882 – Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor suggested a day to honor workers.
- September 5, 1882 – The Central Labor Union held its first Labor Day holiday in New York City. A second Labor Day was again held a year later on September 5, 1883.
- 1884 – The first Monday in September was selected as the holiday and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to also celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date.
- February 21, 1887 – Oregon passed the first bill to become law making Labor Day an official holiday.
- June 28, 1894 – The U.S.A. Congress passed an act making the first Monday of September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories including all Federal workers in all states. The individual States still had to enact their own legislation which 31 States had done already by this time.
- July 23, 1894 – The Canadian Government enacted legislation making Labour Day, the first Monday of September of each year into a national holiday.
Regardless of who, where or when Labour Day was started, it is now an important holiday which is now celebrated in many different countries.
Even though Labour Day was born through the activities of the trade unions, which are still holding demonstrations and picnics on Labour Day, this is a holiday to be celebrated by ALL who labour and who’s efforts and skills at so many different jobs to give us the materials to fulfill all of our wants and necessities in society.
Thank you to all of you, who’s job it is to make this world go ’round. Whether you are a soldier, a banker, a policeman, firefighter, social worker, healer, minister, teacher, maintenance worker, factory worker, cook, hotel employee, mechanic, accountant, doctor, nurse, lawyer, mail carrier, newspaper person, gas station attendent, fast food employee, grocer, baker or a candlestick maker… you make the world go ’round.
Babysitters, stay at home mom’s and dad’s, little league coaches and others that donate their time without much reward, you too are thanked because what we all do matters!
God has given us ALL a purpose. He wants us to prosper and live the life of abundance He has created for us. It is up to us to pull the abundance in to us. Work, prayer and giving of ourselves will indeed create prosperity and abundance for us in our lives. Life is not lived by material things alone; however. There are riches waiting for us in the place which God has created. We will be rewarded for our work both here and in Heaven.
Whatever it is you do, know that you matter! Your work matters! Even on days when it seems like what you are doing is somehow pointless, know that it affects two more people, other than yourself. You matter!
There is a more important lesson to be learned here. In Labor Day, we take a day off and BBQ, hang out with friends and enjoy the extended weekend as a means to celebrate and be rewawrded for the work we do all year long to make this world go ’round. But when the job we do becomes less important than the title we hold or the money we make, it may be time to move on. When you suffer burn out its impossible to do an effective job for the employer who employs you or the people you may serve.
You matter, to someone and the job you do matters to more than one someone. Labor Day celebrates the work we do and gives us that extra day…we owe it to our employers and to those we serve to give them each day we serve them, our possible best. Even when we’d rather not. What we do matters more to others than we will EVER know.
One last note: one smile can fight off three frowns. Make each impression of yourself a positive and lasting one.