Happy Labor Day!
I was eleven years old when my youngest cousin was born. Her family lived across town, and she had an older brother and sister. I remember when her dad came over to announce that mom had “gone into labor.” A couple of months later, school started, the Tuesday after Labor Day. I put two and two together and got, uh, four?
In today’s world, if I have a question about anything, I go to Wikipedia first, and if that’s not helpful, well, Google is my friend. In this case, I find Wikipedia quite adequate.
Labor Day in the United States is a celebration of the American labor movement, the movement that brought us such things as workers’ compensation for accidents in the workplace, at least one day’s rest each week, maximum limits on the length of the work day, and minimum wage laws. Many improvements in the plight of the common laborer have been accomplished through collective bargaining.
Collective bargaining often meant strikes, which usually involved violence, injury, and death. Newspapers, then as now, created names for events of public interest such as strikes:
- the “Haymarket Riot” in Chicago in 1886 (7 police and 4 strikers killed, 70 wounded; 4 strikers hanged after being convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to death)
- the “Colorado Labor Wars” of 1903-04 (66 killed)
- the “Pullman Strike” of 1894 (13 strikers killed and 57 wounded)
- the “Great Railroad Strike of 1922” (11 killed)
- the “Ludlow Massacre” of 1914 (22 killed, including 4 women and 11 children), part of the “Colorado Coalfield War” of 1913-1914 (reports on deaths vary from 50 to 200).
The “Ludlow Massacre” became folklore…
Woody Guthrie sang about it in his song, “Ludlow Massacre.”
Upton Sinclair’s novel, “King Coal,” is loosely based on the event and its aftermath.
Labor Day is a federal holiday in the United States, as well as state holidays in all 50 states.