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Why Labor Day Is My Favorite Holiday

Why Labor Day Is My Favorite Holiday

As a human resource professional for more than two decades, my favorite national holiday is Labor Day. The United States recognizes 12 federal holidays each year, and among them, it seems that Labor Day is the least celebrated and recognized for what it truly represents for American workers and the historic labor movement in our country. This is one reason Labor Day is so important to me.  

For most working Americans, Labor Day brings a welcome three-day weekend. Labor Day weekend is the last opportunity between Independence Day and the winter holidays for making special plans or gathering with friends and family to relax, enjoy outings together, host backyard barbecues, and celebrate extra time off. And for most businesses, it’s another marketing and promotional opportunity to roll out Labor Day sales and special deals.  

What is this day of celebration really about? I’d like to share some brief history and the true meaning of Labor Day, how it came to be, and its impact on American workers. These are the reasons I love and respect this holiday and I hope others will join me through greater understanding.  

The first Labor Day was celebrated 141 years ago  

The U.S. Department of Labor shares how 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 day was celebrated with the first Labor Day parade, a picnic, concert, and speeches – and 10,000 workers marched in the parade from City Hall to Union Square.  

Within two years, 23 more states had adopted the legal holiday (at the time, there were 44 U.S. states) – and on June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a law making the first Monday in September of each year a national holiday.  

The day remains true to its name  

The reason Labor Day was established and celebrated is to remember the sacrifices that American workers and union leaders in the labor movement made to gain worker rights and freedoms in our country. It is celebrated to remember the value of the labor movement and its successes, such as earning minimum wage, reduced working hours, better and healthier working conditions, among other achievements.  

As Labor Day marks the triumph of those who fought for workers’ rights and freedoms in the United States, this legal holiday provides an opportunity for American workers, all our citizens, and our nation and government to reflect on the journey toward gaining, maintaining, and strengthening workers’ rights. Each year, Labor Day reminds the government of its commitment and responsibility to continue protecting the rights and freedoms of American laborers.  

The movement continues!

We can certainly track the progress of protections for U.S. workers and workers’ rights and the organizational initiatives to create positive workplaces. It is obvious that we have come a long way. However, this important and ongoing labor movement requires more than laws and other acts of Congress.  

It takes ever-evolving strategies to adapt to the constantly changing population of America’s workforce. There are many institutions, agencies, individuals, and HR professionals who work tirelessly each day to improve the environments and working conditions of America’s workplaces and for American workers and their well-being. After all, we spend more time in our workspaces and with our work families than we do with our own families! 

A challenge for each of us  

As we approach the end of summer and Labor Day weekend, enjoying that last picnic or barbecue, let’s all take a moment to reflect and appreciate the individuals who began fighting more than 140 years ago to establish this official workers’ holiday and today’s national observances. They are the individuals to thank for the extra day off on the first Monday of September. Please also recognize all professionals who work tirelessly every day to make your workplace a safe, positive, and inclusive place to be. 

As stated so eloquently by the Department of Labor regarding the history of Labor Day, “American labor has raised the nation’s standard of living and contributed to the greatest production the world has ever known and the labor movement has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership – the American worker.”  

Happy Labor Day to all!  

As national experts in talent recruitment, Goodwin Recruiting and I wish everyone a great Labor Day weekend! Please contact us when you need top-tier professionals for important roles on your team – or for your next job opportunity. I am a senior recruiting partner at Goodwin and I am also DEI-certified, ready to assist in your journey to success. Feel free to connect with me at any time.