We’re headed into the weekend appreciative for all the work that our Fellows and Alumni do in pursuit of making this great democratic experiment a more perfect union.
We can’t help but wonder whether the conditions that gave rise to a stronger labor movement and Labor Day itself are coalescing again. 12-14 hour work days, 6 and 7 day work weeks, unsafe and unregulated work environments especially for the poor, the uneducated, and immigrants. So we’re reflecting on what it is that labor accomplished for all of us, starting back in the 1860s, with the infamous Haymarket Riot, and up until today. Here are a few other key dates of the labor movement.
According to the NYT, “American workers held the first Labor Day parade, marching from New York’s City Hall to a giant picnic at an uptown park on Sept. 5, 1882 … Many of the attendees risked their jobs by participating in the one-day strike. On their signs, they called for “Less Work and More Pay,” an eight-hour workday and a prohibition on the use of convict labor. They were met with cheers.”
President Grover Cleveland signed a bill into law on June 28, 1894, declaring Labor Day a national holiday.
1938: Political pressure continues to mount. On June 25, Congress passes the Fair Labor Standards Act, which limits the workweek to 44 hours, or 8.8 hours per day.
1940: On June 26, Congress amends the Fair Labor Standards Act, further limiting the workweek to 40 hours. A few months later, on October 24, the law goes into effect.