Labor Day 2021: E.R. Precision Optical departs our usual topic choices to remember the meaning behind celebrating Labor Day… We celebrate conquering the hardship and struggle for decent working conditions in the time before labor reform.
We know that Labor Day is a day when we avoid work. Labor Day marks the end of summer and we look forward to the celebration and fun time. And yes, we need this rest, relaxation, and fun time before fall schedules and school terms take over our lives completely.
Moreover, we have a right to this holiday and all the fun that comes with it. However, many have forgotten how we earned that right. With Labor Day 2021, do we remember what or why we celebrate? Additionally, we have forgotten the 18th and 19th-century struggle for decent working conditions.
Labor Day 2021: The Worker’s Battle Cry
“In 1817, Welsh Manufacturer and labor rights activists Robert Owens created a slogan. “Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.” The slogan was transported across the seas to America and became the working man’s Battle Cry.
So, E.R. Optical brings you this special holiday blog edition. Why? Because we believe it is important to remember the reason and the history of this special celebration.
So, we depart from our usual topics to bring you some special Labor Day facts, stories, and statistics. And we dedicate this blog to working Americans and the history responsible for this holiday. (Please Note: If you missed our last blog, we invite you to read From Ingots to Wafers to Semiconductors. Learn the fascinating story of the journey of silicon crystal into your phone and computer.)
Labor Day 2021: The Forgotten Revolution
There is more to Labor Day 2021 than picnics, parks, parades, and barbecues. In fact, it is a mysterious and misunderstood holiday. However, let’s take first things first.
Firstly, we take this opportunity to send out Happy Labor Day congratulations to the millions of American workers who enrich our country today.
Next, we recognize that most Americans only vaguely know the details of Labor Day. And, it is true that picnics, parties, and parades will consume our nation’s energy this coming long weekend.
And finally, sometimes we get very involved with just having the freedom of a three-day holiday. Then, we forget the reason the Labor Day holiday was nationalized.
Labor Movements, Protests: The First Labor Day Celebration
To begin, we turn back the clock to the time of the Industrial Revolution.
It seems the first American Labor Day was in New York City. “10,000 marching men in 1882 instigated the entire idea.” And they had plenty of labor problems to protest.
However, on the day of September 5, 1882, the laborers created a peaceful demonstration. Why did they demonstrate?
You see, people, of that era, men, women, and even children, worked 10 plus hour days. This schedule was part of the daily routine. Some worked even longer hours.
Our Labor Day: Founded on Labor Reform
Imagine the working conditions of that time period with its unsafe working environment in every factory. Fire in factories was an everyday threat. (And it is no wonder fire was feared. No laws existed for sprinkler systems in those days.)
Horrific labor stories abound from this period of history and some of these stories could melt the hardest hearts. For example, let’s look at the story of March 25, 1911.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Factory Fire
One of the most infamous incidents in American industrial history occurred in New York City. This particular fire killed 148 people. The “deaths were largely preventable.” And the press reported that “most of the victims died as a result of neglected safety features and locked doors within the factory building.”
This is a brief account of the occurrence:
The “fire spread through the cramped Triangle Waist Company garment factory on the 8th, 9th and 10th floors of the Asch Building in lower Manhattan. Workers in the factory, many of whom were young women recently arrived from Europe, had little time or opportunity to escape. The rapidly spreading fire killed 148 workers.” You see, those doors we mentioned were locked from the outside. And there were no sprinkler-systems or fire extinguishers to fight it.
Before Workers Had Rights
What were worker’s lives like in that time period? Definitely, not good. In fact, the lives of workers during that time period before the birth of unions were nothing like ours.
- Today, we would consider forced Child labor unbelievable. However, at this time, a 5-year-old could be worked right beside her mother in a sweatshop. And wages were pitiful.
- Of course, Mother, and child would have quotas.) Low pay was the standard. In fact, Labor was the company’s cheapest resource.
- 10-16 hour workdays exhausted families.
- Clearly, family time was non-existent, as were children’s playtime.
The First Labor Day
As mentioned above, that first Labor Day began as a protest. But on that day, in 1882, the first Labor Day Celebration also occurred. The protesting and speeches erupted in massive picnicking instead of violence.
That’s right, massive picnicking followed the intense picketing on that first NYC Labor Day. All of this happened on September 5, 1882.
However, incredible as it seems, our society had to wait until 1916 for the 8-hour work-day to become law.
Importance of the Adamson Act?
This important labor law occurred with the authority of the Adamson Act in 1916.
- The Adamson Act was the first legislation that mandated a 40-hour work-week.
- Additionally, the act also established additional pay for overtime.
And there is more behind the story of the 8 hour day in the eyes of history. The story begins a year after the NYC peaceful demonstration and celebration of the first Labor Day.
Another Step In the Worker’s Battle Cry: The Pullman Story
It began when an 1883 economic depression caused a downturn in the purchase of rail cars for passenger trains. As a result, the owner attempted to regain losses at the expense of the workers.
“Railroad company owner George Pullman cut workers’ wages.” Then, he “refused to lower their rents. A nationwide labor strike ensued…”To squelch the rebellious behavior, President Grover Cleveland called in military muscle.” And then, violence ensued. Real Violence.
The unfortunate statistics from that clash included “30 deaths, 57 injured, and $80 million dollars in property damage.”
President Cleveland: The Holiday’s Beginning
Now, we can understand the reason that President Cleveland was eager to make Labor Day a federal holiday one year later. It was important to make peace with the voters before the next election. He needed to redeem himself in some way. Oh, yes, he rushed Congress into creating the official holiday.
However, it was not until 23 years later, with the Adamson Act, that we actually established the 8-hour workday and 40-hour work-week.
Those are the statistics and the stories. They tell the tale behind our Labor Day 2021 Holiday. Why is This Background Important? We at E.R. Optics believe that we can only truly appreciate a holiday if we know the history and the heritage behind it.
And Now—Back to the 21st Century
The Balance: Work, Life, Family
Now, back in the 21st Century, we are ready for the parties, family gatherings, and fun of our own labor day.
The Labor Day holiday has become an important time. Additionally, it is a time to renew, refresh and re-invigorate family members and friends. Today, we embrace the philosophy of a Balance between Work, Family, and Play.
Having time for work, for play, and for the family is the secret of life. Labor Day focuses on “play.” Isn’t it strange that it is called “Labor Day?” After all, the entire objective of the day is not to work?
Family and Friends: Our Plan For Family and Friends
So, we plan family fun for every age. And yes, we make time to connect with family and friends. That’s a part of the holiday.
Firstly, we will spend time picnicking, hiking, and swimming. Then we will share camping, boating, and sight-seeing. And finally, we’ll even take time for holiday sale excursions. Labor Day provides healthy moments of refreshment for the mind, spirit, and body.
Thank you for reading our blog. And until next time, we wish you a warm and happy holiday and happiness to you and your family. Have a safe, happy, and healthy Labor Day Holiday.