Labor Day is a US Federal Holiday held on the first Monday in September and this year’s celebration occurs today.
To appease the labour movement, President Grover Cleveland made the event a Federal Holiday and was able to progress legislation through Congress in only 6 days! This followed the deaths of strikers by the US Military and US Marshalls during the Pullman Strike in 1894, in protest at having their wages reduced.
The strike which had began in Pullman, Illinois, brought the rail services west of Chicago to a halt and at its peak 250,000 workers were involved in 27 states. Cleveland had ordered troops to Chicago to end the strike
September was chosen to avoid aligning an American labour holiday with the existing international May Day celebrations and also to avoid linking the event the Haymarket Affair. All 50 U.S. states celebrate Labor Day a state holiday.
Labor Day consists of a street parade to exhibit the strength and spirit of the trade and labour organizations, followed by a festival for the workers and their families. Speeches by prominent individuals have subsequently been introduced and the emphasis moved to the economic and civil significance of the holiday.
The American Federation of Labor convention, in 1909, deemed the Sunday preceding Labor Day as Labor Sunday and is dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.
Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the end of the summer and regarded as a day of rest. Labor Day is also the beginning of the NFL and college football seasons; NFL starting the week before and NCAA the Thursday following Labor Day.
Up to 2004 the Southern 500 NASCAR race was held on Labor Day.