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When is Labor Day 2021 celebrated?

Labor Day in the United States is celebrated on the first Monday in September. In 2021 the celebration of the American worker will take place 6 September.

When is Labor Day 2021 celebrated?
DAVID MCNEW AFP

In the late 19th century, labor unions sought to create a day off work for the working citizens and eventually the concept grew into a federal holiday. Now, Labor Day pays tribute to the American worker, the creator of the highest standard of living and greatest production that the world has known.

For over a century the first Monday in September has been set aside as a national holiday for the yearly celebration, unlike most of the rest of the world which celebrates 1 May. The holiday is celebrated with parades, picnics and barbecues. Most Americans consider Labor Day the official end to summer and try to take advantage of the last three-day long weekend.

A “workingmen’s holiday”

At the end of the 1800s the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks for a pittance. The working conditions were often extremely unsafe with little or no consideration for those that toiled. To force employers to the table to renegotiate pay and hours labor unions formed, organizing strikes and rallies.

There is some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers. According to the Department of Labor the two contenders are Peter J. McGuire, a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor and Matthew Maguire secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. Recent research seems to support that the latter was the one who proposed the holiday in 1882.

The Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic. The first Labor Day parade was held on 5 September, 1882 when 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City. The concept took off and by 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday.

To make amends for a deadly clash Labor Day is born

The decisive moment for the holiday came in 1894, when employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike 11 May. They were joined by the American Railroad Union on 26 June, which called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars which brought rail traffic to a halt nationwide. Federal troops were called in to break the strike leading to riots and the deaths of more than a dozen workers.

To make amends with American workers on 28 June, 1894 Congress passed an act making Labor Day a federal holiday. President Grover Cleveland signed it into law cementing the first Monday in September of each year as a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.