Dear Brother and Sisters,
On behalf of the A.R.M. Executive Board, we hope you had a safe and happy Labor Day.
Labor Day – a Canadian import?
If you’re like most people, you celebrate Labor Day every year by doing something fun before summer ends. But how much do you really know about Labor Day?
In the United States, we tend to think of Labor Day as a thoroughly American holiday, but Labor Day actually has its roots in Canada. The movement to shorten the average workday from 12 hours to nine started in Hamilton, Ontario, but quickly spread to Toronto, where it became a central demand of the Toronto Printer’s Union.
When the proposal was firmly rejected by employers, the printers went on strike on March 25, 1872, and on April 15 a group of 2,000 workers, led by two marching bands, marched through the city streets to show their solidarity with the strikers. By the time the parade reached Queen’s Park, the crowd had grown to 10,000 or more.
On June 28, 1894, Congress passed a bill that designated the first Monday in September as an annual federal holiday to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers and their contributions to the strength and prosperity of the nation. The labor movement had gained momentum and became increasingly influential in national politics when, on May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives.
On June 26, Eugene V. Debs, leader of the American Railroad Union, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars. After the boycott crippled rail transportation nationwide, the federal government sent troops to Chicago to break the strike, which led to a series of riots that caused the deaths of more than a dozen workers.
By making Labor Day a legal holiday, Congress hoped to regain the support of American workers. Grover Cleveland, who was both the 22nd and 24th president of the United States and the only U.S. president to serve two non-consecutive terms in office, signed the bill that made Labor Day a legal holiday for federal employees in the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories and, effectively, for American workers nationwide.
On February 21, 1887, Oregon became the first state to make Labor Day an official holiday. Later that year, four more states—Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York—passed legislation to create a Labor Day holiday. By the end of the decade, Connecticut, Nebraska and Pennsylvania also chose to honor workers with a special day. And by 1894, when Congress passed a bill making Labor Day a federal holiday, 23 other states had already adopted Labor Day legislation.
Parades were a big part of early Labor Day celebrations, and many U.S. communities still hold parades on Labor Day every year. The first Labor Day parade was on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, (pictured, above left) but it was actually a protest march for safer working conditions, shorter hours and better wages for workers. Ten thousand workers gave up a day’s pay to take part in that first Labor Day parade, marching from City Hall to Wendel’s Elm Park at 92nd Street and 9th Avenue—the largest park in New York at that time—where they picnicked, enjoyed a concert and listened to speeches by union leaders. Later that evening, even more people came to the park to watch fireworks and dance.
Peter McGuire, who founded the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and co-founded the American Federation of Labor (AFL) with the legendary Samuel Gompers, is often credited as the “Father of Labor Day.” But new evidence suggests that the idea may have come from a different labor leader with a similar name. Matthew Maguire was an important figure in the Central Labor Union of New York and led several strikes to improve working conditions. According to the New Jersey Historical Society and the U.S. Department of Labor, shortly after President Cleveland created Labor Day with his signature, The Paterson (N.J.) Morning Call published an editorial that called Maguire “the undisputed author of Labor Day as a holiday.” Gompers and Peter McGuire were friends, however, and Gompers considered Matthew Maguire a radical. So in an 1897 interview, Gompers gave McGuire the credit for suggesting the Labor Day holiday.
The labor movement gave birth to Labor Day, and labor unions remained an important part of the holiday for decades after it was created. Labor union membership reached its peak during the 1950s, when approximately 40 percent of private-sector workers, and a significant number of government workers, belonged to labor unions, but union membership has declined sharply in recent years. (In 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership fell to 11.3 percent of wage and salary workers nationwide, including both public- and private-sector workers, the lowest level of union participation since the 1930s.)
In the late 1800s, the average American worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, just to get by. Child labor was common, even among children as young as 5 or 6 years old, and children worked equally long hours in factories and mines for a fraction of what adults were paid. Workers and labor unions had been calling for an eight-hour work day for many years, and various legislative attempts had been made to establish shorter shifts, but without much widespread success.
It wasn’t until 1916, when Congress passed the Adamson Act, that the eight-hour work day gained a foothold in U.S. law as well as American culture. The Act established an eight-hour work day, with additional pay for overtime, for employees who operated trains for interstate railway carriers. The Adamson Act was the first federal legislation in the United States that regulated the hours of workers in private companies.
The first five-day week in America was put in place by a New England spinning mill in 1908 to accommodate its Jewish workers, who had trouble observing the Sabbath under the traditional six-day work week. If they took Saturday off and worked Sunday, they risked offending the Christian majority, and to work on Saturday was a violation of their own religious beliefs.
In 1926, Henry Ford started closing his factories all day Saturday and Sunday, creating the modern weekend by giving his workers two consecutive days off without reducing their pay.
In 1929, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America was the first union to negotiate a five-day work week for its members. After that, the rest of the nation slowly began to change, but it wasn’t until President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established a five-day, 40-hour week for many workers, that the great American weekend was born.
Labor Day was the first Monday holiday in the United States, and one of the few designed to fall on a Monday from the start. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which took effect on January 1, 1971, created more three-day weekends for federal employees by making Memorial Day, Washington’s Birthday, Columbus Day and Veterans Day Monday holidays. The observance of Veterans Day was later changed back to November 11 by an act of Congress. When Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was created, it was also designated as a Monday holiday.
When Congress created Labor Day in 1894, and decreed that it would fall on the first Monday in September every year, it was also creating what would eventually become a three-day weekend for most Americans. At the time, most U.S. workers still toiled at least six days per week, so at best the new Labor Day holiday gave them only two consecutive days off. Although summer doesn’t actually give way to autumn until late September, Labor Day is often considered the unofficial last day of summer, probably because it is often the last weekend before the new school year begins—a moment dreaded by children and welcomed by parents nationwide.
According to Samuel Gompers, the first president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), Labor Day is the only holiday that celebrates the common man (and woman)—not religion, a war anniversary, or the birth or death of a famous person. As he wrote in The New York Times on September 4, 1910: “Among all the festive days of the year, of all the days commemorative of great epochs in the world’s history, of all the days celebrated for one cause or another, there is not one which stands so conspicuously for social advancement of the common people as the first Monday in September of each recurring year — Labor Day.”
On September 8, we have the start of the regular Union meetings.
On September 11, "Never Forget" the tragic event that happened 12 years ago.
The summer party was great as always. A very special thanks to all of the volunteers. Also, special thanks to Charlie Long and his band for entertaining everyone. Thanks to Joe Reichert (right), the winner of the 50/50; Joe donated part of his winnings back to the club.
Remember that if you don’t contact us before the party and you don’t show, then we keep your envelopes. You can start sending your Christmas Party envelopes in now. This party is the one for which we welcome people to bring in cakes for the cake wheel. We will need volunteers.
Bowling has started and we can always use more bowlers.
The Teamsters' fall golf outing will be held on September 28 at Oakmont Green in Hampstead, MD. For more information, please call the Union Hall.
New Members: Jeff Butta
Sick Members: Lester Evans, Frank Barnett, Wayne Chaney, Ron Cusick and Jeff Butta
Deceased Members: Steve Glowacki (UPS), Clarence Roberts (Blue Diamond), Dynishie Johnson (Acme Markets), William McMillion (Leaseway), Laurin Houseknecht (Mountainside), and George Thomas (Sunpapers)
Please keep these members and their families in your thoughts and prayers.
The next meetings will be on September 19 and October 17 in the Sullivan Hall at Teamsters Local 355, 1030 S. Dukeland St., Baltimore, MD. Coffee and donuts are served at 9:30 a.m. The Executive Board meets at 10 a.m., and the general meeting begins at 11 a.m. A light lunch is served following the general meeting. Hope to see you there. Remember to bring another retiree with you.