SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Labor Day has its roots in the advocacy of labor activists and unions.
The traditional first Monday of September as a federal holiday didn’t start until 1894.
Twelve years before that workers in New York City had a parade in the streets for the first Labor Day.
The U.S. Department of Labor said Peter McGuire or Matthew Maguire, both involved in unions, suggested a day of rest for labor. Whoever suggested it and whoever carried it forward, President Grover Cleveland on June 28, 1894, signed the law declaring Labor Day as a holiday on June.
Ever wonder why anyone suggested a Labor Day?
Back in the 1800s the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to earn a basic living, according to History.com.
Even kids, some as young as 6, worked in mines and factories.
A day off as a break and to honor workers must have seemed like a good idea.
History records show that states started observing their own Labor Days before the national declaration.
Like that 1882 parade in New York City when about 10,000 union workers marched in a parade to honor American workers. They worked without little nor no laws to protect their safety or health.
So, Labor Day has its roots with unions and workers. And the 40-day work-week and many laws and regulations that protect worker health and safety have their roots in labor unions.
Today, fewer than 6% of the workforce in South Dakota is represented by a union, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2020, 5.5% of those employed were represented by unions in the state.
In 1989, 12% of the workforce was represented by unions. Not all those represented by a union were members of the union as 8.1% of the workforce was a union member.
The state has 17 unions and 4.1% of the workforce is a union member.