BlueCollarWriter Labor News Update


Labor News Update - 09/5/2023

#HotLaborSummer Strike Coverage

Labor News

Politics, Legislation & Government

Labor History in 2:00

September 5 The First Labor Day Parade On this day in labor history, the year was 1882. That was the day the first Labor Day Parade took place in New York City.  But whose idea was it?  According to the late Jonathan Grossman, former historian at the Department of Labor, the first Labor Day occurred during a general uptick in working class organizing, strike activity and militancy that year.   Peter McGuire, Carpenters Union General Secretary is often credited as the father of Labor Day.  But others assert that Knights of Labor machinist and New York City’s Central Labor Union leader Matthew Maguire was the force behind the holiday.  The machinist Maguire had been active in the eight-hour movement and later as a Socialist Labor Party politician.  By the end of the decade, 400 cities nationwide celebrated the first Monday of September as “a general holiday for the workingman.”   It was already an official holiday in most states when the labor movement started campaigning for a day of recognition at the federal level.  Labor militants contend that by 1894, the holiday was promoted for its respectability against the more radical May Day.  Another unanswered question remains regarding President Cleveland’s motives for signing the federal legislation.  The widely accepted view is that Cleveland hoped to win back Labor’s vote after federal troops crushed the 1894 Pullman Strike in early August.  But the President signed legislation much earlier, on June 28th. The nationwide boycott against Pullman cars, called by Eugene Debs and the American Railway Union, had just begun two days earlier. Did he hope to deflate the boycott?  What do you think?  For many in the Chicago labor movement, the fact that both Labor Day and May Day are linked to the city’s history is a source of pride.

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