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Celebrating Labor Day? Thank Unions!

Labor Day is a great day for camping, fishing, and celebrating the hard worker by giving them a day off. Most private employers observe the holiday; and chances are since most American workers today are not involved in any kind of unionized labor, most who enjoy the day are also non-union workers.

But although there is some dispute over who spearheaded labor day, it all began in labor unions.

Here is some info from the U.S. Department of Labor on the History of Labor Day:

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

So, whether you think unions are nothing but thugs or you think they represent hard work and earned wages, if you get a paid holiday on Monday, take some time during your fishing trip/cookout/favorite TV show marathon to thank union laborers of the past.

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