Labor Day rail

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

The first Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885, Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Labor Day legislation

The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on Feb. 21, 1887. That year, four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. All 50 states have made Labor Day a state holiday.

Who’s the father?

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold." But many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Maguire proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.

States with the highest minimum wage*

Washington: $8.07

Massachusetts: $8

California: $8

Oregon: $7.95

Illinois: $7.75

Vermont: $7.68

Connecticut: $7.65

* As of 2008; some states are increasing the rates in 2009

A look at labor unions

15.4 million: Number of labor union members nationwide. About 12 percent of wage and salary workers belong to unions, with Hawaii and New York having among the highest rates of any state — 25 percent and 24 percent, respectively. South Carolina has one of the lowest rates, at 2 percent.

The workforce

In the nation’s labor force are 82.1 million men and 70.7 million women.

Extreme commuting

3 million: Number of workers who face commutes to work of 90 or more minutes each day.

Hard workers

- 7.6 million: Number of workers who hold down more than one job.

- 8 percent: Percentage of workers who work more than 60 hours a week.

Are you ready for some football?

Labor Day marks the beginning of the season for the National Football League and NCAA College Football. The NCAA usually plays their first games the weekend of Labor day, with the NFL playing their first game the Thursday after Labor Day.

Jerry’s telethon

Since 1966, the annual telethon of the Muscular Dystrophy Association has been held on Labor Day weekend. The telethon, hosted by Jerry Lewis, raises tens of millions of dollars each year to fund research and patient support programs for the various diseases grouped as muscular dystrophy.

Fashion sense

Popular fashion etiquette dictates that white should not be worn after Labor Day. Originally it was white shoes that were taboo — white or "winter white" clothing was acceptable. But the custom is fading, as is generally is acceptable to wear white any time of the year.

Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, Wikipedia, USA.gov, Census.gov