Editorial: American workforce swells to 205 million, and every one deserves day off

Labor Day isn’t just about barbecues, recreation, big sales and waving good-bye to summer. Besides being a tribute to the working class, Labor Day is also wrapped up in fun facts ...

• The Precedent: The first individual Labor Day was organized in 1882 by the Central Labor Union in New York City, with 10,000 laborers on parade.

• Head Out on the Highway: The travel club AAA predicts 44 million Americans on the road this Labor Day, the most in five years.

• Thanks/No Thanks: In the early years, Labor Day was used by workers to celebrate their achievements and to air grievances.

• Big Mac Muddle: No one is absolutely positive whether the founder of Labor Day was Peter J. McGuire (of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners) or Matthew Maguire (of the Association of Machinists).

• Making Good: When President Grover Cleveland signed the law declaring Labor Day an official nationwide holiday in 1894, he was keeping a campaign promise.

• A Hard Day’s Night: At the time of the first Labor Day in 1882, the average American worker worked 12-hour days seven days a week, and in some states children were still working in factories and mills.

• Changing Times: Today, the average American worker in the private sector works 34.4 hours per week, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics.

• The Silver Screen: The most popular movie centered on Labor Day is Picnic (1955), which does not celebrate American labor so much as one hot day with William Holden and Kim Novak.

• Yum: Speaking of picnics, traditional Labor Day foods include hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks and potato salad, with a mix of summer and fall veggies and Jell-O salad.

• On the Job: As of May 2017, 205 million Americans age 16 and over are employed.

And every one of them deserves a day off. Happy Labor Day!


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